A new study released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that almost 65% of near car collisions and 80% of all car accidents occur because motorists are eating or drinking. According to the study, food and drink are a major distraction for drivers and drivers who are focused on eating or drinking have slower response times and are less able to react quickly to sudden changes in road conditions or to dangers on the road.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study has found that some foods are worse than others when it comes to driving. Coffee seems to be the worst danger for drivers. The liquid is hot and can easily spill on a driver, even when secured with a lid. A sudden burn injury behind the wheel – even a minor one – can cause a driver to swerve, drive erratically, and take their eyes off the road. A driver who has spilled coffee on themselves is rarely ever thinking about their driving, and that’s a key danger, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study.
After coffee, the other major dangers behind the wheel include, in order: soup, tacos, chili dogs, hamburgers, ribs and wings, fried chicken, jelly doughnuts, soda and chocolate. Soup is similar to coffee in that it can easily spill and burn a driver, distracting the driver from the road. Chili dogs, hamburgers, ribs and wings, fried chicken, and jelly doughnuts are all potentially messy foods that can spill or drip, distracting the driver from the road. As well, many of these foods require more than one hand to eat. For example, driver might be tempted to take both hands off the wheel to dip wings or chicken in sauce. Most of these foods are also quite greasy or messy and can cause the driver to have a poor grip of the wheel.
One of the most troubling aspects of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study is that so many people eat and drive. Drive-thrus are designed to allow people to eat on the road and most drivers who get take-out at a drive-thru eat in their car while driving. On longer trips, many people eat while driving to save time. As many of us get busier, having a snack or a coffee on the road has become quite common. In fact, according to an ExxonMobil Corporation study, over 70% of drivers eat while driving while 83% of drivers admit to drinking beverages on the road.
There are currently no laws against eating or drinking non-alcoholic products while driving, but as a result of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study, some communities may want to rethink their legislation. From the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study, it would appear that forbidding drivers to eat or drink while driving can save lives and can prevent many personal injuries.
Until laws are put in place, it is evident from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study what drivers must do. If you are hungry or thirsty, pull over before eating or drinking anything. If you go through a drive-thru, wait until you get home to eat and drink your purchases, or eat them in the parking lot of the restaurant. The extra few minutes you might save by eating on the go are not worth the risk.