The unappreciated risk of eating while driving

On Behalf of | Feb 1, 2021 | Auto Accidents |

Were one to ask drivers in Delaware what are the greatest threats they face on the road, distracted drivers would likely be among the responses. Yet when people think of drowsy drivers, they probably only envision a person texting or talking on their cell phone while behind the wheel.

While this is a common example of distracted driving, distractions extend to any action that pulls one attention away from the road. Indeed, past posts on this blog referenced research that shows that there are three common forms of driving distractions:

  • Cognitive
  • Visual
  • Manual

One particular activity causes drivers to engage in all three of these types of distractions simultaneously: eating. What is more, eating while driving may be among the greatest threats drivers face.

The prevalence of eating while driving

The reason why drivers eating behind the wheel poses such a threat is due to its prevalence. Information shared by ExxonMobil shows that as many as 70% of drivers admit to eating while driving. Many may think that eating is such a natural action that it does not qualify as a distraction. They may believe that even if one has to take their attention off the road to focus on food, that inattentiveness is only momentary. Yet couple that with the fact that one already likely has one hand off the steering wheel to grasp their food, and one quickly realizes that a driver in such a position (traveling at a high speed) does indeed constitute a threat.

How dangerous are drivers who eat behind the wheel?

Just how great of a threat to people who eat while driving pose? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that one who does this may be as much as 3.6 times more likely to experience a car accident than those who do not.