If you are busy between dropping your kids off from school and going to work, you might be thinking about grabbing a quick bite at a nearby fast-food restaurant. It is quick, cheap and small enough where you can snack while driving. It saves time and it’s not against the law to do so, so what’s the downside?
Many drivers fail to realize that eating while driving is a form of distracted driving. Whenever the term is thrown around, people tend to think about texting while driving as it is often discussed and has laws in the state against it. Since there are no laws against eating while driving, many do not feel pressured to avoid it. However, eating behind the wheel can be just as distracting as texting. Whether you have been guilty of this or not, it is crucial to know how eating can impair one’s driving so your family is aware of the dangers.
It decreases steering ability
Driving safely requires both of your hands to be on the steering wheel. Unlike certain phones, food cannot be a hands-free option. Most drivers usually place their food in the cupholder or passenger seat to reach out when they want to grab a bite. They think that having one hand on the wheel is fine enough, but it can result in uneven movements. It becomes difficult to stay in your lane or make sharp turns.
Even using both hands could become unsafe if the driver just finished their food. Their fingers become greasy or wet and make the steering wheel harder to grip. If they take some time to wipe it off with a napkin, that is more time both hands are not behind the steering wheel and another form of distracted driving.
It is visually and mentally impairing
Trying to eat while driving may seem like a convenience, but it gives you more to worry about. You now have to keep food in a safe place to prevent it from spilling, carefully grab the food with one hand and get it to your mouth without dropping any of it on the floor or in between the seat cracks. If you combine all of this with trying to maintain safe driving methods and getting to your kid’s soccer practice on time, fast food starts feeling like more of an additional chore.
Global driver risk management company Lytx found that drivers with food and drink distractions are 3.6 times more likely to cause a crash. Regardless if states do not have any laws against it, it is important that you and your family knows that food can be just as distracting as a cellphone. If you stop to get fast food with your kids, show them proper driving etiquette by refusing to eat your food until you get to your destination.