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Examining the dangers of eating and drinking while driving

Past posts on the blog touched upon both the dangers of distracted driving and the alarming rise of its recent prevalence. Most people in Georgia may think the increased risks of encountering a distracted driver on the road has everything to do with the proliferation of cell phone technology witnessed in the last 15-20 (after all, are distracted driving and texting or talking on a cell phone while driving not synonymous?). 

In truth, there is another form of driving distraction that may pose an even greater risk to drivers in Georgia. Indeed, eating and drinking while driving is something many (if not most people) do without realizing how distracting it can be. 

Common types of driving distractions

Most people view the process of feeding themselves to be such a natural action that few likely view it as distracting. It is no doubt for this reason why studies show that nearly 80% of motorists admit to eating or drinking while behind the wheel. Yet essentially any activity that requires any degree of one’s attention is a distraction. Per The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common types of driving distractions include: 

  • Manual distractions: Actions requiring the use of one’s hands 
  • Cognitive distractions: Actions requiring one’s attention 
  • Visual distractions: Actions requiring one’s vision or gaze 

Eating and drinking force a driver to engage in all three, thus pulling their attention away from the road ahead and inhibiting their response times. 

How dangerous can eating while driving be?

Some may argue that even if eating or drinking behind the wheel causes a distraction, that distraction is only momentary. Yet even a momentary distraction can produce catastrophic results. According to information shared in a joint research effort between The Auto Alliance and The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, eating while driving makes one 3.6 times more likely to experience a car accident.