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Is eating while driving that dangerous?

Last month, we reported on a new law that was recently passed, the Hands-Free Georgia Act. The aim of this act is to help dissuade people from using their cell phones--or any handheld electronic devices--while driving.

While cellphone distraction accounts for a high number of accidents on the roadways, it is not the only form of distracted driving. Distracted driving refers to any activity that:

  • Takes a driver's eyes off the road,
  • Takes their hands off the wheel or
  • Takes their attention away from driving.

Even if you are careful to never use your cell phone while behind the wheel, there's another, less often discussed form of distracted driving that nearly all of us are guilty of: eating while driving.

What makes eating while driving dangerous?

In a country where drive-through fast food restaurants can be found on practically every corner, it seems that society almost encourages us to eat while driving. It's so commonplace, it may not even occur to you that such behavior is dangerous. However, eating behind the wheel can actually achieve all three of the above forms of distracted driving at once.

Whether you're fumbling to reach the last Pringle in the tube or contending with an ice cream cone dripping down your wrist, these activities occupy your hands, your eyes and your focus simultaneously. Engaging in such activities while charging down the freeway at 60 miles per hour is a recipe for disaster.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that eating while driving makes a driver 80 percent more likely to be in a crash. Yet most of us do it. In a recent survey, around 70 percent of Americans admitted to eating while driving and 83 percent admitted to consuming beverages while driving.

When you're driving, focusing on the other cars, bicycles, pedestrians, traffic signs and other activity on the road is already a full-time job. Avoid eating or other distractions inside your car to help prevent unnecessary tragedy.

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