You’re busy. You spend, on average, 3 hours a day commuting to and from work and if rush hour is particularly heavy, you might add an hour to your drive time. You never eat at home and your kitchen table holds more mail and paperwork than dinner plates any night of the week. So you think that every now and then it might be okay to eat while you’re racing from point A to point B, right? The upholstery in your car might get covered in spills, stains, and a couple of crumbs, but unfortunately, eating while driving does more harm than good. Eating, while you’re heading down the highway, is not only a distraction, but it is also an example of negligent behavior and if you’re not careful, you could find yourself the victim and the cause of a car accident. Save the sandwich for the office, drive with both hands on the wheel, even if your stomach is growling.
Distracted Driving and Dining
We’ve all witnessed fellow motorists doing things, while driving, that makes them seem like a big risk on the road. Whether it’s the woman applying eye makeup (using her visor mirror) while driving down the interstate, the guy who is smoking, talking on his cell phone, and rummaging through his briefcase (while driving), and even you, who feels around in the bottom of the fast food bag fumbling for the last bits of French fry. Yes, you. All of those are examples of distracted driving.
Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving, endangering the driver, passenger, other motorists and bystander safety. In 2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver and an additional 387,000 people were injured in vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver. While many of the crashes were caused by a variety of distractions, such as cellphone use or texting while driving, even some of the crashes were due to some driver eating. Hard to believe that eating a sandwich could cause a crash, but it’s all too real.
Think about the foods you consume while driving. Sure, a sandwich seems like a simple “meal on the go”, but a standard sandwich has layers and even condiments. Once you get a glob of mayonnaise on your chin, you’ll be searching for a napkin and then you might be fishing shredded lettuce out of your lap. Before you know it, you’ve spent more time focusing on your sandwich than the car in front of you. Some other seemingly innocent foods that may be dangerous while driving include popcorn, French fries, and chips. You can stick a handful in your mouth, but then you’re left with a greasy mess on your steering wheel which may loosen your grip. Avoiding any food, while driving, will keep your hands on the wheel and reduce the potential risk of choking on your food (which could greatly increase your chances of an accident). And even that beloved cup of coffee that gets you through rush hour, each morning, could cause trouble especially if you spill hot coffee on your lap. If you must drink water, keep it in a cup with a straw, as bottles are hard to open when driving.
The best thing you can do, to greatly reduce your distractions, is to eat at home or in a restaurant. If you must eat while on the road, pull over safely and take a bite of food. Think about it. You and your family are having a perfect, summer afternoon and there’s nothing better to top it off than with a soft serve cone. Instead of hoping back in the van with ice cream dripping down your arms, sit in the grass, take in the scenery and finish that last delicious bite before you drive your family home safely. And free of any distraction.
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