The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found eating and driving is more dangerous than using a hand held cell phone while driving. Okay so most people have done it at one time or another, but is it safe? Probably not according to Hagerty Classic Insurance in Traverse City, Michigan. Hagerty Classic Insurance publishes this list of driving and eating dangers. It is reprinted here with permission.
- Chocolate – Whatever you touch – steering wheels, stick shift, clothing or hair – will carry distinctive fingerprints. Drivers’ instinctive reactions are to clean the offending candy stains immediately, which distracts them from the road ahead.
- Soft Drinks – Suddenly wearing your soda as you pull out to pass could be a deadly distraction. Open containers holding liquids – hot or cold – can cause a lack of driver concentration when spilled across a shirt or lap.
- Jelly and Cream-Filled Donuts – Imagine the disaster as messy jelly oozes onto drivers’ clothes and they become more focused on the spill than the highway.
- Fried chicken – Greasy hands are a sure distraction as drivers tend to constantly try to clean them while driving. Grease on a steering wheel is almost impossible to get off.
- Any Barbecued Food – Barbecue sauce may be delicious, but drivers should remember that “if it can drip, don’t eat it while you drive.”
- Juicy Hamburgers – The same goes for foods that contain messy or greasy extras. A $5 hamburger deluxe could turn into $500 worth of repairs if dripping condiments, special sauces or greasy meat juices distract the driver.
- Chili – Anything containing chili like a chili dog, sloppy Joe or Coney dog. Steering chili-covered foods to your mouth while steering a car around a corner requires more dexterity than humans possess.
- Tacos – Here’s a foodstuff that can disassemble itself without much help while being consumed. One good road bump and the seat of your car looks like a salad bar.
- Hot Soups – Eating soup while trying to manipulate a gearshift is not sensible. It’s the equivalent to a circus juggling act; a sure recipe for disaster.
So what is the most hazardous food drivers can consume? The offender is one of the world’s most popular beverages and the one with which most Americans start their mornings:
- Coffee – Uncovered drinks generally are the greatest offenders for unexpected splashes and spills. Nobody wants to look soiled or messy, especially on the way to work, and coffee spills are the worst because drivers invariably try to make instant clean-ups while still driving. In addition, hot coffee is often served at temperatures near scalding, and can cause serious burns that also divert a driver’s focus.
Hagerty also learned:
- More food-related accidents happen in the morning hours than in the evening because people are concerned about their appearance on the way to work.
- The odds of having a food-related accident can double if the vehicle has a stick shift since eating, shifting and steering requires increased dexterity and adds one more variable to the equation.
- The most hazardous situation combines eating and cellular phone use. When the phone rings, the “driving distraction” increases significantly and in a rush to answer, drivers forget they’re driving.