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Yes, eating and driving is a dangerous distraction

There are many dangerous things that people do behind the wheel, such as looking away from the road to set up a GPS, manipulating the radio or Sirius satellite system, texting someone or merely being absorbed in conversation. Something that is equally dangerous that isn't talked about enough is eating while driving.

When you eat and drive, you're distracted. It's one of the most common forms of distracted driving, too. Eating requires you to use your hands, to think about something other than the road and even to look away.

Eating snacks or drinking behind the wheel is a true hazard

Though it might not seem so serious, eating behind the wheel, or drinking behind the wheel, are both dangerous and pose serious safety risks to drivers. There are three kinds of distractions that occur, including:

  • Visual distractions
  • Manual distractions
  • Cognitive distractions

Visual distractions occur when you look away from the road to complete another task. In this case, it's when you look at the food you want to eat or take it out of the wrappers.

Manual distractions take one or both of your hands off of the wheel. If you have to put a straw into a cup or repeatedly dig fingers into a bag of popcorn, then you're manually distracted.

Finally, there is cognitive distraction, which is when your mind and focus is on something other than driving. Thinking about the food you're eating, what you want to put on it or focusing on it in general, distracts you mentally, taking your mind off what's happening in front of you.

Every type of distraction is dangerous, but when you combine three types of distraction, it's an ever greater threat to your safety and to the safety of those around you. On top of that, there is a risk of other hazards, such as spilling hot or cold drinks on you.

Statistics prove the danger of driving while eating

In 2014, a study by Lytx showed that drivers who are eating are 3.6 times more likely to crash than those who are not. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also points out that eating or drinking increases your chance of being involved in a crash or near-miss crash by around 39%.

We all want to get to our destinations safely, so it's smart to avoid drinking and eating while we drive. If you are hit by someone who was distracted, then they can be held responsible for your injuries.

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