The Dangers of Eating and Driving

Texting while driving, drinking and driving, and other prohibited activities get a lot of attention. Eating and driving is also quite dangerous. Few drivers seem to think about the risk; however, grabbing some food or sipping a beverage can increase your risk of getting into an accident.

The actions associated with eating while driving are called “secondary task distractions” by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In fact, the NHTSA estimates eating (or drinking from an open container) while driving increases the odds of a crash or near miss by almost 30 percent. Additionally, it ranked the most dangerous foods to eat in the car, including chocolate, doughnuts, fried chicken, soft drinks, coffee, and even hamburgers, tacos, and soup!

Now, why is eating in the car so dangerous? First, it encompasses the three most common types of impaired driving distractions, including:

  • Visual distractions: Diverting your eyes from the road to another task.
  • Manual distractions: Requiring you to take your hands off the steering wheel.
  • Cognitive distractions: Removing your concentration and focus from driving. 

To eat, you must unwrap the food item, hold it (taking at least one hand off the wheel), and perhaps apply condiments and use a napkin. All the while, eating while driving is preventable. Just wait until you get home or pull over to have a bite to eat! These are among of the most practical and life-saving driving tips.

Top Eating and Driving Risks

There are many ways you can get yourself in trouble. The top distractions of eating behind the wheel include:

1. Spills

If you drop crumbs or an entire doughnut, or spill a drink, you’re going to look down. Perhaps you’ll reach for some napkins. All this requires looking away from the road. The lack of attention dramatically increases your risk of an accident.

2. Slippery Hands

A burger, piece of fried chicken, or a soda can may make your hands slick, reducing your grip on the steering wheel. Without a good grip, it’s impossible to drive safely. You could easily lose control during a turn and collide with a motorist, pedestrian, or object.

3. Wrappers

Food and candy wrappers are notorious for distracting people in any situation. Think about how long it takes to unwrap a small piece of candy; these vital seconds mean you’re traveling a significant distance with no awareness of your surroundings.

4. Liquid Burns

Being scalded by hot liquid such as coffee is a definite distraction. Coffee cups seem quite stable and well-constructed, until your driving with them. Burnt thighs will certainly distract your attention from the road and traffic ahead, so wait to start your coffee until you reach your destination.

5. Taste

After a long day, a mid-drive snack may seem like a great idea. But you may be so preoccupied with the savory taste of whatever you’re eating, what is happening on the road takes second place. Your inattention then becomes the recipe for an accident.

Shopping for a Used Car? Hawthorne Can Help

In Southern California, people are quite accustomed to routine driving. You can avoid trouble by not eating in the car, and you can save by purchasing a used vehicle with low mileage and that’s been professionally inspected and maintained prior to purchase. Plus, you don’t have to look far for a used car dealership; Hawthorne Auto Square offers hundreds of vehicles and financing options no matter what form of income you rely on. Contact our sales department at 866-707-7664 or use our Quick Contact form to learn more.