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Dangers of Eating While Driving

Most people often hear about distracted driving and how texting while driving is one of the most dangerous distractions. While this is true, it’s believed that eating while driving is just as dangerous. It’s common among drivers but overlooked as a road risk. The most obvious concern is having your hands full. It’s impossible to keep both hands on the wheel if you’re eating or drinking a beverage. The initial process of unwrapping or opening and closing bottles takes enough focus away that it can easily cause an accident.

Dangerous Foods

Granted, it’s best not to drive famished, but you should try to avoid any distractions while on the road. Whether you’re eating or drinking, if you spill something, your attention is instantly diverted from the road. When you’ve finished, your hands are often slick, and you’re more likely to lose control of the wheel. Sweets like chocolate or foods with heavy sauces like barbecue are especially dangerous.

To prevent this sticky situation, try to eat before getting on the road. It may be tempting to order from a drive-thru and continue with your route, but you should opt for eating in.  If you don’t have any time, wait to eat at stoplights or make stops into roadside parking lots for a few bites. If you have to eat something on a long trip, try to stick to foods and drinks that don’t require too much attention. French fries, baked chips, and water are less likely to stain or burn, so they should be easier to manage.

Road Rules

Eating while driving isn’t against the law, but it slows down your reaction time, and it’s why drivers should refrain from doing it. To practice successful defensive driving, you should give the road your full attention. A study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed that eating while driving increased the odds of an accident by 80 percent, with at least 70 percent of surveyed drivers admitting to eating while on the road.

These types of accidents are more likely to occur in the morning hours. Most drivers are on their way to work or school and are rushing to their next destination on an empty stomach. Getting breakfast from the drive-thru is a normalized activity, but, again, this tends to delay reaction time.

Overall, multitasking can be problematic behind the wheel. The time you spend focusing on eating could be spent on getting to your destination faster. Again, this isn’t against the law, but some U.S. cities have banned eating while driving. In places like South Dakota, a driver can be fined at least $100, and some areas may ticket you for reckless driving. Ultimately, eating less while driving increases everyone’s safety on the road.

Think you or someone you know is in need of Behind the Wheel Training? Training Wheels is a Pomona driving school specializing in teaching new teen drivers how to stay safe on the road. For more information on our lessons, please click here.

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