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The dangers of eating while driving

When you think of dangerous driving behaviors, the obvious ones that may jump to mind are driving while intoxicated or driving while distracted. There has been a nation-wide push to reduce distracted driving in recent years, and many states have implemented laws banning texting or using hand-held devices while driving.

Consequently, when the topic of distracted driving comes up, many people automatically associate this term with cell phone use while driving. However, distracted driving is broader than that. It refers to any activity that:

  • Takes your eyes off the road,
  • Takes your hands off the wheel or
  • Takes your focus away from driving

One of the more serious forms of distracted driving—which often combines one or more of the above criteria—is something the vast majority of Americans engage in and may not even consider it dangerous: eating while driving.

In this era of drive-through restaurants, it’s almost expected that you’ll eat your breakfast sandwich on your way to work. According to a recent study, 70 percent of drivers eat—and 83 percent drink beverages—while behind the wheel. However, consuming food or drinks while driving poses serious risks. According to estimates by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), this behavior makes you 80 percent more likely to be in an accident.

While eating or drinking anything while driving is dangerous, certain items are particularly hazardous:

  • Items that need to be unwrapped—such as a sandwich or a beverage with a wrapped straw
  • Items that require condiments—such as a hamburger
  • Hot beverages—such as coffee or tea
  • Items with toppings that could easily fall off—such as a taco

Although the above items are the most dangers to consume on the road, consuming anything while behind the wheel puts you, your passengers and other drivers at risk. Stay safe on your drive, and restrict your eating to when you’re stopped.

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