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Why is eating while driving dangerous?

You likely take pride in your practice of safe and responsible driving patterns (with the goal in mind of avoiding accidents). This may prompt you to assume that all other drivers in Georgia do the same. Thus, when you do experience a car accident caused by another driver, your first question is often what might have caused them to operate their vehicle so recklessly? 

If you notice in the immediate aftermath of your accident that the driver has fresh spills or stains on their clothing, grease smudges on their steering wheel or recently opened food wrappers strewn throughout their vehicle, then you may have already identified the cause of your accident. Eating may seem like such a natural action that it may be hard to believe it can be distracting. Yet a closer review of the actions that go into it reveals just how unsafe eating while driving can actually be. 

Identifying common driving distractions

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention lists three general types of driving distractions: 

  • Manual 
  • Visual 
  • Cognitive 

Eating while driving forces one to engage in all three. One must release the steering wheel (with one or both hands) to grasp their food, and they must divert their vision and attention away from the road to focus on it in order to avoid spills. 

Understanding the dangers caused by eating while driving

The net effect of these distractions is to slow one’s reaction times behind the wheel. While each of the aforementioned actions may not seem to pose that great a risk on their own, together they can distract a driver long enough to leave them inattentive on the road ahead while traveling an extended distance in their vehicle (and no focused on avoiding you and other drivers).