Drivers: Don’t Eat While Behind The Wheel!

With so much time spent in cars, drivers fight to remain productive during what they consider down time. Whether it is commuting to or from work, completing errands during lunch, or coming home after a long night out, drivers are likely to decide that having a snack while behind the wheel is a great way to pass the time.

It’s not.

While drivers consider eating or drinking to be a distraction to some degree, the vast majority of them admit to performing these actions while behind the wheel of a car or truck. Whether it is a coffee on the morning drive or a bag of fries while coming home, here are some tips to keep in mind to keep yourself safe – and ensure the safety of those around you.

Here are four things to remember:

  • Eating will take one, if not both, hands off the wheel: Depending on the food you have chosen, it’s going to become a manual distraction. In the best of circumstances, you’re eating chips or fries or cookies – something that only requires the use of one hand. What if you’re attempting to eat a messy sandwich or a taco? You might need to use both hands to keep everything from falling into your lap. What will you do? Drive with your thighs? This isn’t a safe way to operate your vehicle.
  • Even non-alcoholic drinks can be dangerous: Alcoholic drinks, of course, are to be avoided at all costs while driving or prior to getting behind the wheel. However, it is also important to remember that regular drinks can also be a distraction. Large cups, for example, can obstruct the driver’s view of the road while taking a drink. Even a smaller drink, like the popular 20 oz bottle, can demand attention and dexterity …. What if the driver fumbles removing the screw-cap from the bottle? What if the driver looks away from the road to locate a screw-cap that has rolled away from the bottle?
  • Passengers who are eating can be distracting to the driver: Vehicle passengers are an endless source of distractions. From conversations to loud singing to playful bantering to playful punching, it is not uncommon that passengers can distract drivers. What if passengers are eating and drinking in the car? What if they try to share their food with the driver? What if they spill something, drawing the ire (and attention) of the driver?
  • Making a habit of eating in the car leads to distracting clutter: With every meal, there is often trash. Whether it is a handful of greasy napkins, a food wrapper or an empty soda cup, clutter can quickly amass in the cabin of any vehicle. It is not uncommon for drivers to try to clean up a mess while driving, consolidate trash or simply move something out of their visual field. All of these actions, while driving, can become a deadly distraction.

From texting to reading to personal grooming, distracted driving is becoming a plague on the roads. Law enforcement is trying to crack down on whatever laws are on the books, but someone who is eating while driving is reckless – but not doing so illegally. If you commonly drive and believe yourself to be in control and above distractions, consider these tips and rethink your actions.