This is probably something most motorists have done. Whether you are running late for work in the morning or rushing around during your lunch break running errands, eating while you are behind the wheel has become a very common occurrence on the road. And believe it or not, unlike texting while driving, which is a punishable offense in North Carolina and many other states, eating while driving a car is not specifically prohibited by law.
We discourage this no matter how long you have had your driver’s license or how skilled you think you are at driving. Eating while you are driving is a form of distracted driving, and distracted driving can lead to life altering injuries and property damage.
You may ask, why is driving and eating so dangerous?
Below you will see how distracted driving is broken down into three separate behaviors and categories:
This occurs when your mind is not focused on actually driving. An example of this could be something as simple as day dreaming, or something more difficult such as sending a text or email.
This involves taking your hands off of the steering wheel. Manual distractions include using cell phones, adjusting your GPS, changing radio stations, playing with electronic devices like iPods, etc.
This is when you take your eyes off the road. It could be to look at your child or another passenger, reading a text message or checking your phones notifications – these are all considered visual distractions.
Texting while driving is extremely dangerous because it combines all three behaviors – cognitive, manual, and visual. Eating while driving also falls into all three categories, for example, you take your eyes off the road to grab your food out of the bag and your one hand leaves the steering wheel to reach into a bag or box. The cognitive distraction comes when you are eating or drinking and something spills into your lap, then your mind becomes more concerned with cleaning up the mess instead of driving.
How can you avoid this driving distraction?
If you are guilty of eating while you are driving, take a minute and think about when you are most likely to do it. Is it in the morning? If so, consider waking up earlier so you can enjoy breakfast at home before you leave the house. Is it lunch? Maybe pack a lunch and eat at work. Or eat at work before you run errands. If you have to pick-up food at a drive-thru, consider pulling over and eating before getting on the road. If you are taking a road trip, take breaks. Stop to use the rest room and have a drink or snack at the rest area. Not only will this help you remain well-rested, but it also reduces your distractions while driving.