Most people in Salt Lake City might assume that the conversation surrounding distracted driving begins and ends with cell phone use. Indeed, all of the attention directed towards the dangers of texting while driving may make it seem as though that is the only distraction drivers engage in, yet in reality, there are a number of different activities that can distract people while behind the wheel.
Eating and drinking fall among this group. Many might feel as though these actions are not distracted given that they seem so natural. Statistics, however, suggest otherwise. Information shared by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that as many as 80% of all car accidents could be due to eating while driving.
Evaluating the most common distracting activities
A joint research effort between the Auto Alliance and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons shows that experts recognize three major types of driving distractions:
- Cognitive: Actions requiring one’s attention
- Visual: Actions requiring one’s vision
- Manual: Actions requiring the use of one’s hands
Reviewing the actions that actually go into eating and drinking while behind the wheel reveals that both cause a driver to engage in all three. Not only does one need to release the steering wheel in order to grasp their food or drink, but they also must look away from the road and focus on it (even if only momentarily).
Identifying when a driver was eating and drinking while driving
While many people may not feel as though eating and drinking while driving are not distracting, few many actually admit to doing it after having caused an accident. Thus, those involved in accidents may need to discover this for themselves. Open food and beverage containers on the seats or floor of a vehicle may indicate such activity, as can fresh stains on a vehicle’s upholstery or a driver’s hands or clothing.