Just how distracting (and dangerous) is eating while driving?

On Behalf of | Feb 9, 2021 | Car Accidents

You have probably seen a plethora of materials from awareness campaigns launched in recent years aimed at raising awareness of the dangers of texting while driving. Indeed, the prevalence of this message may lead many to believe that cell phone alone makes up a majority of distracted driving cases. Yet there is another type of driving distraction you and others on Massachusetts’ roads must deal with that may be even more prevalent (and equally as dangerous). 

Eating while driving is an action many engage yet few credit as a distraction. Indeed, most people may think it to be such a natural action that they hardly consider it a distraction at all. Yet a closer examination of the effort that goes into it reveals just how dangerous it may be. 

Reviewing the common types of driving distractions

Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are three major types of driving distractions: 

  • Manual: Actions that require one’s hands  
  • Visual: Actions that require one’s vision 
  • Cognitive: Actions that require one’s attention 

Eating at the wheel forces one to simultaneously engage in all three. They release the steering wheel to hold their food, and they take their eyes and attention off the road to avoid spills. These each might only require a moment of effort, yet collectively they do enough to cause sufficient inattentiveness and delayed reaction times to make one dangerous. 

Spotting a “dining driver”

If you happen to be in an accident caused by a “dining driver” however, they may not admit to eating behind the wheel. To prove this (and thus assign liability for the collision), look for subtle clues such as opened food wrappers or drink containers strewn throughout their vehicle, or fresh stains on their clothes or hand (or their vehicle’s upholstery).