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Eating while driving: an underappreciated distraction

When car accidents occur in Monck’s Corner, one of the most important elements to determine is fault. Oftentimes that will be evident; a driver may have been traveling well in excess of the posted speed limit or been operating their vehicle in a blatantly reckless manner. Yet in many cases, fault may not be so apparent. It is at that point that one must look for the more subtle cues to understand with whom a majority of the blame for an accident should lie. One such clue might be a person involved in a collision wiping food stains off their clothing or quickly discarding cups or wrappers. These are telltale signs of eating and drinking while driving.

One might ask what is so wrong with this. After all, why would cars come equipped with cup holders or restaurants have drive-thru windows if people were not meant to eat while driving? Eating and drinking may seem like such natural actions, yet they indeed can be distracting. In a collaborative research effort between the Auto Alliance and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, it was highlighted that eating behind the wheel induces the three common forms of distractions:

  • Cognitive: Diverting one’s attention away from the road
  • Visual: Diverting one’s eyes away from the road
  • Manual: Pulling one (or both) of a driver’s hands off the steering wheel

While none of these distractions may be prolonged, they can be enough to cause someone to drift into another lane or fail to recognize stopped or slowed vehicles ahead.

Eating while driving may a much more common cause of accidents than many may think. Data compiled by ExxonMobil shows that as many as 70 percent of drivers admit to eating while behind the wheel.

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Moncks Corner, SC 29461

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