Driving Safety or Cheeseburgers?

We’ve long heard the rally cry behind not drinking while driving and putting our phones down, but there’s another distraction overtaking many steering wheels and wreaking havoc on driving safety.

Eating while driving.

According to a study conducted by ExxonMobil, 70% of drivers admit to eating while behind the wheel and 83% drink beverages while they drive.

This means that many of cars you pass may very well have a driver who is about to spill a hot cup of coffee on his lap or a drop some ketchup from a burger all over her new shirt. This wouldn’t be such a big deal if our natural reaction wasn’t to avoid making a mess and, consequently, take our attention off the road.

In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has concluded that those who eat and drive increase the odds of an accident by 80%. Furthermore, around 65% of near miss accidents are caused by distracted drivers messing with food and drinks.

However, despite these shocking numbers, one of NHTSA’s national surveys of distracted driving reveals that only 31% of feel that behaviors such as eating and drinking distract drivers enough to make driving more dangerous.

Some places have made eating while driving illegal. Other places, though eating while driving is not explicitly illegal, have other statutes that can come into play. For example, some drivers can be ticketed for second-degree negligent driving when they are engaged in an activity that “operates a motor vehicle in a manner that is both negligent and endangers or is likely to endanger any person or property.”

This is precisely what happened to an Alabama man, Madison Turner, who was ticketed by Cobb police for eating while driving. However, Turner decided to fight the ticket and the Cobb County Police Department submitted a dismissal of the case, which a judge signed.

Though the dangers behind eating and driving still may be fairly controversial, the NHTSA has listed the most dangerous foods and beverages to consume while driving. Starting with the most dangerous, here is the list:

  1. Coffee
  2. Hot Soups
  3. Tacos
  4. Chili
  5. Juicy Hamburgers
  6. Any Barbequed Food
  7. Fried Chicken
  8. Jelly and Cream Filled or Powered Donuts
  9. Soft Drinks
  10. Chocolate

Do you think there should be a law prohibiting eating while driving? Do you or someone you know eat while driving and has it ever caused any safety concerns? Answer these questions at HSE Press Forum or comment below!

  • Dodie Gonzales

    yes for me this is really a serious topic that we need to discuss, one of my concern is that while your driving and eating this can possibly lead you to experience choking from the food that you swallow especially when you are in a hurry or hungry, then once this happen you dont even have time to park or even go into the shoulder lane because once you choked and you dont even know how to assess yourself or even your companion that could lead you to panic and accident and the worst somebody driving safely on the road can also suffer due to wrong practices while driving…

    while driving focus on the road at all times….safety first

  • Shanari

    Very well said, Dodie! Whether it’s choking or accidentally dropping your food on your clothing, the distraction can very quickly lead to an accident.