One of the most distracting activities behind the wheel does not involve any kind of electronic device. The simple act of eating or snacking while driving can significantly increase your risks of being involved in a motor vehicle collision.
According to researchers, a person’s crash risk increases by as much as 70% when he’s driving while eating or drinking. Any kind of behavior that takes your hand away from the steering wheel and your eyes off the road, constitutes a distraction while driving. Avoiding these behaviors is one important way to keep safe while traveling. Whether you are chowing down a breakfast during the morning rush hour, or snacking on the way home, your risks of an accident are magnified.
Unfortunately, while many motorists seem to appreciate the dangers of using a cell phone or texting while driving, they may not fully understand the dangers of snacking while driving. Let’s face it. We have all snacked or sipped a beverage while driving at some point. According to one study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, drivers between the ages of 40 and 50 are much more likely to snack while driving, compared to drivers of other age groups. Drivers between the ages of 20 and 30 are next on the list, followed by drivers between the ages of 16 and 17. People also tend to snack and drive more frequently when they are alone, compared to when they are with other passengers.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that snacking while driving amplifies your risk of being involved in an accident by 80%. One study by ExxonMobil discovered that 70% of 1,000 drivers admitted to snacking while driving.
In some ways, snacking while driving is an even bigger distraction than holding a cell phone to your ear. Motorists, who are snacking, must unwrap packaging, hold food steadily, focus on not dropping food on their clothing, use condiments, and perform other activities to accomplish the simple task of eating. Each of these constitutes a distraction, and could lead to a deadly accident.