Eating and drinking are dangerous driving distractions

On Behalf of | May 30, 2024 | Car Accidents |

Most drivers would not take an issue with the idea of eating a meal on their way to work or a client meeting. Many commuters habitually enjoy breakfast or at least a cup of coffee on their way to their jobs every day.

Eating and drinking while driving are almost encouraged, as fast food companies advertise convenient, handheld meals that people can acquire and consume without ever exiting their vehicles. Making use of those opportunities can be a major mistake. Enjoying a beverage or meal at the wheel is a very dangerous form of distraction.

How eating and drinking distracts a driver

Safety experts typically categorize distraction into three categories. There is visual distraction that occurs when people look away from the road. Someone rummaging through a fast food bag looking for the last fries or a condiment packet may look down into the bag instead of keeping their eyes on the road.

Then, there is manual distraction. Someone eating a cheeseburger or burrito needs to take at least one of their hands off of the wheel to hold their food or cup. Some people take both of their hands off of the wheel and attempt to drive with their knees.

Finally, there is cognitive distraction. The process of eating generally consumes a bit of an individual’s focus. They may not notice changing traffic conditions because their focus is more on enjoying their meal or trying to avoid spilling sauce all over their white shirt.

If someone does spill their food or beverage, that could lead to even more distraction. The decision to stop for fast food or drink a coffee on the way to work could eventually be why someone causes a crash. Drivers who are aware of this risk may avoid making this mistake themselves. They can also theoretically hold other drivers accountable if they experience crashes caused by someone whose clothing indicates they were mid-meal when the crash occurred.

Identifying and avoiding high-risk behaviors can help people prevent distracted driving collisions and hold the right people accountable when they do occur. Those who understand that fast food is as dangerous as it is convenient could potentially avoid causing a wreck by waiting to enjoy their meal until they reach their destination.