After experiencing a car accident, many of those in New Jersey may be able to describe the following scenario: approaching the vehicle that caused the accident and noticing food wrappers and open beverage containers strewn about the vehicle, as well as fresh stains on the driver’s hands a clothing.
Such a scene may not seem unusual (given that many may eat or drink while driving). Yet with all of the awareness directed towards avoiding distracted driving in recent years, one might reasonably question why eating behind the wheel is typically not included among the list of common driving distractions.
Common forms of driving distractions
This may be due to the fact that many people (if not most) likely do not view eating and drinking as distracting. Indeed, people do it so often as to make it seem like a natural action that requires little to no thought at all. However, a joint research effort between the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the Auto Alliance identifies the following three common forms of driving distractions:
- Manual (actions that require the use of one’s hands)
- Visual (actions that require one’s gaze)
- Cognitive (actions that require one’s attention)
A closer review of the actions involved in eating and drinking while driving shows that they involve all three. One must release the steering wheel (with at least one hand) to grasp their food, and then take their eyes and their attention off the road (even if only for a moment) to focus on eating it.
How common is eating and drinking while driving?
Recognizing that eating and drinking while driving is a distraction may reveal exactly how prevalent of a danger it may be. As previously mentioned, many engage in it. This fact contributes to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimating it as the cause as many as 80% of all car accidents.