Distracted driving is one of the primary causes of fatal car accidents in the U.S. and can involve anything from texting and driving to paying more attention to your passengers or eating a snack.
Grabbing food on the go is such a normal feature of life in Los Angeles that many people don’t realize just how much eating and driving can increase their risk of an accident.
Eating and Driving: The Facts
57% of Americans say that they eat while driving. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, distracted driving is the cause of over 1,000 car accident injuries each day and an average of nine fatalities.
Some other sobering statistics about eating and driving include:
- Taking your eyes off the road for five seconds equals traveling the length of a football field
- Your chances of getting into an accident increase 80% if you’re eating and driving
- Near-miss accidents go up about 65% if the driver is eating or drinking
- Drivers are three times more likely to get into a collision if they’re eating
Although many people may see eating in the car as harmless, it’s clearly not, and the distraction of eating while driving may result in a life-changing collision.
What Makes Eating While Driving So Dangerous?
When you’re eating, you’re splitting your attention between the road and your food. Additionally, your hands may get slippery from condiments or grease, making it harder to grip the wheel.
Eating usually requires both hands, but even if you have food that needs just one hand to eat, you still aren’t in full control of the vehicle. Some drivers may actually try to steer with their knees while eating!
If you’re on your lunch break or heading into work while eating in the car, you’re probably worried about spilling food on your work clothing. This can take more of your focus away from the road or cause you to make accident-causing errors like failing to use your turn signal or not checking for a motorcycle in your blind spot.
Distraction while driving means delayed reaction times, which can be especially dangerous when you’re sharing LA roads with motorcyclists, cyclists, and all of the pedestrians downtown or in tourist locations. If you’re trying to eat while merging onto a highway, you may not be in full control of the car when you’re speeding up or slowing down.
What Are Some Ways to Avoid Eating While Driving?
Eat something before you leave, even if it’s something small. A hard-boiled egg, granola bar, or smoothie doesn’t take long to make and can help hold you over until you arrive at your destination, where you may be able to eat something more substantial.
Try not to keep snacks in the car. If you keep chips or candy available, the temptation can be too much, and you’ll find yourself distracted, eating, and driving. Keeping food out of the car keeps it cleaner, too.
When you’re driving with a beverage, opt for slimmer containers that can be easily gripped with one hand instead of oversized tumblers. Choose containers with a straw instead of a difficult-to-open lid.
Eating, drinking, and driving should never be done simultaneously. Distracted driving can have significant consequences, including fatal car accidents.
Distracted driving, including eating while you’re operating the vehicle, is a danger both to yourself and to other drivers. The first rule of defensive driving is to pay full attention to the road, which can help you if other drivers are eating and driving.
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