Eating while driving: an undiscussed safety concern

You’ve decided to take a cross country road trip. Your goal is to make it from Cleveland to Los Angeles in four days. With such a tight timeframe, you probably don’t have much time for unnecessary breaks. Consequently, you’re eating most of your meals on the road.

One hot afternoon, you pull up to a fast food restaurant and order a soft serve ice cream cone. Within minutes, you’re back on the freeway. Only now, you’re contending with the melting ice cream dripping down your wrist. You’re trying to focus on driving, but you also have to dedicate attention to eating without making a mess. Before you know it, you’ve swerved into adjacent lane and collided with another car.

The above scenario happens all the time and receives comparatively little media attention. It represents a dangerous form of distracted driving that no one really talks about. However, 70 percent of Americans eat while driving—an activity that increases the likelihood of an accident by a whopping 80 percent.

In recent years, Ohio has passed laws that prohibit texting while driving—the most widely known form of distracted driving. However, any behavior that takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel or your attention off of driving itself is considered distracted driving, and they are all dangerous. Eating while driving has compounded risks, because it often satisfies all three of these conditions.

With the proliferation of drive-through restaurants, eating while driving almost seems unavoidable. Nonetheless, do yourself and other drivers a favor by refraining from eating or drinking until you’re stopped.

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