The dangers of eating while driving

Good news does indeed exist in relation to distracted driving: many more people in Scranton are aware of the dangers that it poses. The bad news, however, is that far too many still think that it is only limited to cell phone use while driving. 

In reality, there are several different forms of driving distractions. One in particular may be as dangerous (if not more so) than texting or talking behind the wheel: eating while driving. 

The prevalence of eating while driving 

Many may hear this assertion and dismiss it, believing instead that eating is such a natural action that it does not qualify as a distraction. Yet statistics suggest otherwise. Indeed, according to estimates made by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, eating while driving may be responsible for as many as 80% of all car accidents. 

Yet eating does indeed come naturally to people; why, then, would it be distracting? A joint effort between the Auto Alliance and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons analyzed this question and produced the following points: eating behind the wheel forces drivers to engage in the following types of distractions: 

  • Manual 
  • Visual 
  • Cognitive 

One must look at and concentrate on whatever it is that they are eating, and they must take at least one hand off the steering wheel in order to grasp it. Alone these actions may not have a dramatic impact on driving performance, yet together they can slow one’s reaction time sufficient enough to cause an accident. 

Determining if eating while driving caused an accident 

How is one to know if the driver that hit them was eating at the time? Telltale signs may include food wrappers or drink containers strewn throughout a vehicle, or fresh spills or stains on a driver’s clothing or a vehicle’s interior.