Why Eating on the Go While Behind the Wheel Isn’t a Good Idea

We’re busier than ever. With work, family, school, social, and community obligations constantly needing attention, it can feel as though we spend most of our time rushing from one responsibility to the next.

How eating in the car might cause distraction and accidents Neblett, Beard and ArsenaultWhen you’re hungry on the road, fast food and convenience stores are the quick and easy options for a meal or snack. Unfortunately, although grabbing a bite and devouring it behind the wheel may be convenient, it’s also putting you at a higher risk for an accident.

Though eating while driving is extremely common, it can also be dangerous. A driver is 8 times more likely to be involved in a crash while reaching for something such as a drink, snack, or cigarette.

For decades, agencies like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have warned motorists of the dangers of eating on the go. One particularly concerning study found that eating or drinking increases your chances of being in a distracted driving crash or near -miss crash by 39%.

Additionally, a study conducted by Lytx, a vehicle event recorder company, found that drivers who eat or drink behind the wheel are 3.6 times more likely to be involved in a distracted driving accident than motorists who don’t engage in that type of behavior.

What makes eating and driving so hazardous? It combines the three main types of driver distractions: visual, manual, and cognitive. Think about it—in the course of your meal, you might have to take your food out of its wrapper, eat it, find somewhere to put the garbage, respond to spills, and more. All these actions undoubtedly require you to take your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, and your mental focus off the task of driving safely.

Fortunately, food-related distracted driving accidents are entirely avoidable. Instead of eating while driving, set your alarm to wake you up just a few minutes earlier so you can eat at home. And don’t keep food in your car—after all, if it’s not there, you can’t eat it and be distracted by it. Also, if you want to stay hydrated while driving, the NHTSA recommends choosing a slim travel bottle with an easy-open lid.