Numerous studies suggest that using a cell phone while driving causes distractions that increase the risks of traffic accidents. While information of this nature is certainly valuable, we should also remember the multitude of other distracting things drivers do when they should be keeping their eyes on the road. For instance, did you know that eating while driving is considered even more dangerous than talking on a cell phone?
The Dangers of a Distracted Driver
That’s right. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in concert with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, eating while driving is one of the most distracting things a driver can do.
It’s been estimated that 80% of crashes and 65% of near-crashes involve some element of driver distraction. “Distraction was most likely to be involved in rear-end collisions in which the lead vehicle was stopped, as well as in single-vehicle crashes”, says the NHTSA.
The NHTSA also indicate that eating is a significant negative factor in a driver’s reaction time. Since it is widely recognized that most crashes can be avoided if the driver had just one additional second to react, taking a bite of your breakfast burrito on your commute to work takes on a whole new meaning.
Top 10 Foods to Avoid While Driving
Even the insurance industry warns against the pitfalls of eating and driving. For instance, insurance.com has released their “Top 10 Foods to Avoid While Driving”. They remind drivers that by cutting back on everyday driving distractions that lead to crashes and tickets, you can save big dollars on your insurance premium. Oddly enough, according to a 2008 Nationwide Mutual study, only 3% of respondents admitted that eating was the most dangerous driving distraction.
Nevertheless, the folks at insurance.com advise avoiding the practice, especially hot, greasy, and gooey foods and drink. In addition they identify the following as being the Top 10 to stay away from:
1. Chocolate (Qualifies for the “gooey” category)
2. Soda (Tilting your head back to drink a soda could lose you the aforementioned extra second)
3. Jelly donuts (Another “gooey” candidate)
4. Fried chicken (Grease on the fingers= a greasy steering wheel)
5. Ribs and wings (Wouldn’t you rather enjoy these sitting down at a table?)
6. Hamburgers (It’s hard to wait to get back to the office with a double-meat, double-cheese sitting in the seat next to you)
7. Chili dogs (The problem here is obvious)
8. Tacos (If you’re going to eat tacos while driving, go with the soft; crispy shells are harder to manage)
9. Soup (Hot liquid + sudden motion = potential disaster) And, what’s the most common dangerous food for drivers? It’s actually another beverage . . .
10. Coffee (There are just so many things that can go wrong with a cup of joe, even if you use a cup holder)
Like you, I can think of a few others that should have been on the list, such as ice cream and French fries. But, let’s face it, everything you do other than paying attention to your driving is a distraction, whether it be conversing with a fellow passenger, adjusting your seat or mirrors, or looking for the eject button on your CD player. Like all other safety hazards, the more risks you add, the more likely trouble can be – in this case – literally right around the corner.