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Just how distracting is eating while driving?

Apr 26, 2019

Oftentimes the circumstances of a car accident in Wilmington will leave you questioning how it could have ever happened. When blatant recklessness appears to have been a play in an accident, you might question whether impairment or distractions were involved. Alcohol and cell phone use are typically the culprits first looked in such situations, yet there is another potential form of driving distraction that is often even more prevalent yet not nearly as appreciated: eating while driving.

Most view eating as being such a natural activity that few would even classify it as being distracting. However, a joint public awareness effort between The Auto Alliance and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons produced results that showed that the most common types of driving distractions are indeed present when people eat behind the wheel. These include:

  • Visual distractions: One must take their eyes of the road (even if only for a moment) to look at what they are eating
  • Cognitive distractions: One must dedicate at least a partial amount of their attention when eating something while driving
  • Manual distractions: Food must be grasped while it is being eaten, requiring drivers to take at least one hand off the wheel

All of these add up to the increased potential of being involved in an accident while eating behind the wheel. Just how much greater is that potential? Information compiled by Lytx shows that drivers who eat while driving are 3.6 times more likely to cause an accident.

So how are you to know if the driver that hit you was eating at the time of your accident? Look for the telltale signs such as fast food wrappers or food containers on the car’s seats or floor. Stains may also appear on the steering wheel or the driver’s clothing.

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