Most of the exposure afforded to the issue of distracted driving is given to cell phone use. There certainly is good reason for this; talking or texting on a cell phone certainly pulls a driver’s attention away from the road. Yet there is another form of driving distraction that does not receive nearly as much press yet may be even more of a risk to motorists in Atlanta (indeed, information compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that it may be responsible for as many as 80 percent of car accidents). This distraction is eating while driving, which, upon hearing these statistics, often prompts shock in most people.

The reason for this is due to the assumption that eating is such a natural action. Most people might say that they do it without even thinking, thus not qualifying it as a distraction. Yet a joint effort engaged in between the Auto Alliance and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons points out that eating while driving causes drivers to experience all three of the commonly identified driving distractions:

  • Visual
  • Manual
  • Cognitive

While it may not take much attention to eat something while behind the wheel, one still needs to grasp what they are eating (causing them to release the steering wheel) and look at whatever food items they are consuming (thus pulling their eyes off the road). Finally, attention is required to avoid spills on clothing and/or vehicle upholstery. Individually, these actions may only distract a driver for a brief moment, but collectively, they can easily turn one who does choose to eat behind the wheel into a danger to others.