Is Eating Behind the Wheel Dangerous? | Joel H. Schwartz, P.C.Joel H. Schwartz, P.C.


Nearly everyone has done it: Eating and drinking while driving. Whether it’s a quick cup of coffee on your way to work or a burger in between running errands, drinking and eating on the go is a fact of life for most people. Everyone is busy, which means meals are frequently consumed in a moving vehicle.

Consuming food and drinks while driving is so common that many people overlook just how dangerous it can be. According to a 2006 study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “driver inattention” is responsible for 80 percent of car crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes.

The study reveals that driver inattention takes many forms, including mobile phone use, which has been targeted by lawmakers as a major driver distraction. Eating while driving, however, receives far less attention. Although consuming food and beverages behind the wheel may not seem as dangerous as using a cell phone, eating and drinking nevertheless pulls a driver’s attention away from the road – something that can quickly lead to an accident.

The Multitasking Myth

Many people eat and drink on the road to save time. They supposedly multitask by doing two activities at once. The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that the idea of multitasking is actually a myth. In other words, it can’t be done. When people think they’re multitasking, the brain is actually rapidly switching its focus between two or more activities.

Motorists can be distracted in multiple ways: cognitive, manual, and visual. Opening wrappers, manipulating straws, and grabbing a drink from a center console are all activities that involve manual, visual, and cognitive tasks. Any time a driver is engaged in one of these activities, he or she is not paying attention to the road.

Some Foods Are More Distracting Than Others

The NHTSA study also looked at which types of foods and drinks are more dangerous than others. For example, eating string cheese behind the wheel is less likely to cause an accident than eating a bowl of soup. With this in mind, here are the most dangerous foods and beverages to consume on the road:

Complicated, greasy, or messy foods – food items like pizza, spaghetti, and tacos can be messy when you’re sitting around the dining table at home. Add driving a vehicle to the mix, and you risk being involved in a serious accident.

Hot liquids – beverages like coffee and tea can spill and cause an involuntarily reaction to the burn, causing the driver to jump, swerve, or veer into oncoming traffic.

Containers without lids – any container without a lid is a hazard in the car. A quick turn or sudden stop can cause liquid to spill onto the driver or the vehicle’s interior, distracting the motorist and possibly leading to an accident.

Boston and Brockton Personal Injury Lawyers

If you have been injured by a motorist who was distracted behind the wheel, we can help. The personal injury attorneys at Joel H. Schwartz, P.C. offer experienced, compassionate legal counsel to individuals and families throughout Massachusetts. Call us today at (617) 742-1170 to speak to a personal injury attorney about your case.

This website has been prepared by Joel H. Schwartz, P.C. for informational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

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