Distracted driving is a generally agreed-upon danger on Pennsylvania roads. From highways to county roads to city streets, drivers who are busy making phone calls, shaving, putting on makeup or reading are the causes of violent vehicle collisions and devastating injuries. One driving distraction that perhaps does not get the same media reaction as others is one nearly all of us has been guilty of at some point in our driving history.
Eating or drinking behind the wheel.
It’s the age-old conundrum – drivers must complete two tasks at once and they believe they have the experience to do so safely. Unfortunately, it is their driving experience that should steer them away from making such a poor choice. Eating and drinking while driving are activities that nearly every driver in the United States has attempted. Whether it is drinking coffee from a travel mug on the way to work or eating a snack on the way home from a long shift, it is nearly a universality. It is commonplace to find evidence of this activity in someone’s car – a wadded up fast food bag, an empty 20 oz. bottle of soda, coffee stains on the center console.
Unfortunately, this activity can slow reaction times and generally lead to vehicle collisions.
What’s the problem?
Regular readers of our blogs remember that driving distractions can fall into three categories: manual, cognitive or visual. Drivers might find elements of all three distractions in their eating or drinking habits while on the road.
Numerous studies are coming to light as evidence that eating or drinking behind the wheel is even more dangerous than you realize.
- A driver who is drinking or eating is 3.6 times more likely to be in a crash (Lytx)
- Eating or drinking from an open container while driving increases the likelihood of near-miss crashes or crashes by nearly 39 percent (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – NHTSA)
From novice drivers to those with decades of experience, anything that takes your attention away from the road can lead to an accident. Looking into your passenger seat for only a brief moment causes you to look away from the road. Stopped traffic, a child running across the street or a driver who has ignored traffic signals can all appear in an instant. If you are not paying attention, it can lead to a serious – if not deadly – vehicle collision.