Eating and driving at the same time is an extremely dangerous activity. But many drivers don’t think twice about it. A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that as many as 80% of distracted driving accidents, and 65% of near misses, are caused by drivers eating behind the wheel!1
Unlike cell phone usage in a car, or drinking and driving, there’s no specific law against consuming food or beverages (the non-alcoholic type). Nonetheless, there are many reasons you should avoid eating and driving, including:
- Two Hands Are Required: As a driver, both your hands should be on the wheel. Eating entails removing food items from a bag, tearing sauce packets, applying ketchup, and fumbling with food items, cutlery, container lids, etc. When your hands are not on the wheel, you’re not in full control of the vehicle.
- A Lack of Focus: When eating, you’re more concerned about dropping food or spilling your drink. This makes it difficult to notice a vehicle in your blind spot or changes in road or traffic patterns. You might even try to steer the wheel with your knees, which no car on the road is designed for.
- Decreased Reaction Time: You’ll be slower to react if your attention isn’t constantly on the road. Avoiding an accident is often a matter of hitting the brakes within mere seconds. Also, food packaging, bags, cups, and napkins create distracting clutter inside the vehicle, while loose items falling onto the floorboard can create a hazardous situation.
Eating and Driving Is a Form of Negligence
If you cause an accident and injure someone, you could be sued for negligence. Eating behind the wheel can lead to speeding, running a red light or stop sign, or shifting in and out of lanes. It can cause distracted driving in a school zone or when passengers, including children, are in the vehicle (passengers shouldn’t be eating either, as the smells, sounds, and perception of others eating can be distracting).
Most Dangerous Foods to Eat While Driving
The NHTSA has also studied what food items are the most dangerous to drivers and others on the road. Solid foods aren’t the only ones. Coffee is the most dangerous item; not only because it’s hot, but because it’s so readily available. Soup, soft drinks, and chili are among the most dangerous as well. Chocolate is also a top distraction as it’s messy and your attention may be diverted to avoid or clean stains.
*Other dangerous foods for eating and driving include hamburgers, tacos, fried chicken, doughnuts, and barbecued food.
With all the fast food joints and drive-thru restaurants around, there is much temptation. It’s very easy to order food from your car. But your best bet to avoid trouble is to eat before leaving or wait until you arrive at your destination.
Visit Hawthorne Auto Square (But Not While Eating and Driving)
If you have an appetite for a new used car, value your trade-in and/or browse our extensive inventory of low-mileage, high-quality vehicles. You can safely travel to our location in Hawthorne to view our most current cars, trucks, minivans, and SUVs and talk to a representative. We also offer in-house financing programs you can get quickly approved for, regardless of your credit. A six-month warranty covering service and maintenance is available. Call 866-707-7664 to learn more or schedule an appointment.