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Distraction dangers: Why eating while driving kills

Most people have taken a quick trip to a fast-food chain for a pick-me-up. They may get a soda, grab a small bite to eat or grab dinner for the family. Whatever the reason, it's common for these people to then sit in their vehicles and eat.

The problem isn't that they're eating in their vehicles but that many people eat in their vehicles while they drive. This makes it more likely that they'll become distracted and cause a serious accident.

Eating behind the wheel is a distraction

When you think of a distraction, you might imagine texting behind the wheel or changing radio stations. The reality is that eating behind the wheel is a distraction, too. You have to take at least one hand off the wheel to eat while driving. Additionally, you may not be focusing on the road as you focus to eat without dropping food on yourself.

When your eyes are diverted to pay attention to eating, you aren't looking at the road. When you take your hands off the wheel, you're not in control. Focusing on food, hunger or other things means you're not looking out for hazards on the roadways. Combined, visual, manual and cognitive distractions can lead to fatal collisions.

Are there statistics to back up the claim that eating and driving is dangerous?

Yes. A study from 2014 states that those who eat behind the wheel are 3.6 times more likely to get into a crash than those who are not. Another study showed that around 70 percent of drivers have driven while eating and 83 percent have had drinks while driving. Those high numbers show just how prominent the distractions could really be.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration believes that up to 65 percent of near-miss collisions are a result of drivers who are distracted by eating behind the wheel.

Distracted driving causes many of the collisions that happen on the roads today. Avoiding all the collisions that occur is likely impossible, but by avoiding eating behind the wheel, you can lower your likelihood of being in an accident.

Distractions are impossible to avoid, but avoiding eating behind the wheel is easy. Pull over and park after you pick up a meal, or wait until you get to your destination. Put your health and life first. If you drive while you're distracted, you could end up causing a crash that leads to injuries or death.

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