There are certain traffic habits that most people in Texas recognize are dangerous. Awareness campaigns have helped people to understand that distracted driving can be a bad choice, particularly when people have mobile phones in their hands.
Despite that increased awareness, many people have an inappropriately limited idea of what kind of distraction is actually dangerous. It is obviously a smart safety move to set a mobile phone aside while driving and to avoid distractions related to device use as much as possible. However, there is another form of distraction that many drivers, including those in control of semi-trucks, treat as though it were a non-issue. This form of distraction can endanger people on the road and increase the likelihood of a major motor vehicle collision.
Eating and drinking are significant distractions
Plenty of people eat a breakfast sandwich or drink coffee during their morning commutes. Those who have to go out on service or sales calls might also eat lunch while on their way to their next appointment. Commercial drivers who spend their entire day on the road often consume multiple meals while in control of a motor vehicle.
Like the use of a mobile phone, eating while driving actually causes all three different forms of distraction. People have to look away from the road to grab their cheeseburger or coffee cup. They have to take at least one of their hands off the wheel, and they will mentally focus more on the food they consume than on the road.
Additionally, there is the very real risk that a driver might spill something while eating or drinking. They might jerk on the steering wheel in response to burning themselves or become even more distracted by the risk of a stained shirt than they were by the meal itself.
Even though many people eat and drink at the wheel daily without causing a crash, it only takes a moment of distraction or a single spill to destroy someone’s previously perfect record. Multitasking at the wheel simply isn’t safe, even if all someone does is enjoy a burger or an order of fries.
Whenever possible, people should wait to enjoy a meal or a caffeinated beverage until they arrive at their destination. If they have someone else in the vehicle, they may want to ask the other occupant to take over driving temporarily if they need to eat to maintain stable blood sugar or enjoy a cup of coffee to keep themselves awake and alert. Recognizing seemingly safe and simple habits as a source of crash risk could potentially help people keep themselves and their passengers safer.