Eating and drinking while behind the wheel – often called dining and driving – is an activity that is so commonplace, drivers often overlook the danger. From the drive-thru restaurants on every corner to the cupholders situated all around the vehicle’s cabin, these activities tempt drivers every time they get behind the wheel. Unfortunately, even though it is common, eating and drinking both overtake a driver’s focus and attention while trying to safely navigate the roads.
There are three main types of distractions, including:
- Manual distractions: These types of activities require the driver to remove one or both hands from the steering wheel to complete the task.
- Visual distractions: These types of activities require the driver to look away from the road, the traffic and the conditions around the vehicle to complete the task.
- Cognitive distractions: Any activity that pulls a driver’s focus and attention from the road is a distraction. Whether this is daydreaming or participating in a hands-free text conversation, the driver must only focus on the primary task at hand.
Dining and driving is considered a distracting activity because it often crosses over into all three categories. The driver must remove a hand, often both, from the steering wheel to eat a bite of food. He or she will often look at the food selection or, even worse, watch a food spill to clean it up immediately. The driver might also be thinking about the food – considering where to stop for a drive-thru dinner or comparing the current meal to something eaten in the past – instead of focusing on the primary task.
Motor vehicle collisions caused by distracted or negligent drivers often result in severe injuries. These injuries can include broken bones, head trauma, spinal cord damage, paralysis and amputation.