Eating behind the wheel: A risk you don’t need to take

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Eating behind the wheel is a serious risk that you shouldn’t take — but it seems like everybody does it, right?

When you eat, drink or even chew on gum while driving, there is a risk that you could choke, drop your food or drink on yourself and become distracted in ways that threaten to cause a collision.

Why is eating while driving so risky?

When you eat behind the wheel, you’re prone to three types of distractions. You may have:

  • Visual distractions as you look for the food or focus on unwrapping it
  • Cognitive distractions as you think about what you’re doing or the food you’re eating
  • Manual distractions as you take your hands off the wheel to obtain your food or to clean up messes from that food being dropped or spilled

It’s dangerous for any one of these distractions to occur when you’re meant to be focused on the road, but it’s even worse when they all happen together. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, eating or drinking while driving makes it more likely that drivers will get into a crash or have a near-miss. The risk increases by around 39%.

What should you do to avoid eating or drinking behind the wheel?

To minimize eating or drinking behind the wheel, it’s important to remember to eat and drink before you drive. If you need to get lunch or to have dinner while on the road, take the time to stop in a parking lot or to sit down for dinner if you can. If there is any way to prevent eating behind the wheel, you should do it to stay safer and stop a crash from happening.

Despite your best precautions, you can’t stop other drivers from risky behavior. If you’re involved in a wreck with a distracted driver, assert your right to compensation for your injuries and losses.


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