When people hear the phrase “distracted driving,” they tend to immediately think of cell phone use or other activities that pull the eyes away from the road. Putting on makeup, for example, reading, manipulating a digital menu or texting can be severe, obvious distractions. But there is one thing that almost everyone does at some point while behind the wheel that can be just as dangerous.

Eating.

Whether it is crunching on a protein bar on the way to work or having a burger and fries on a long commute home, drivers can have their attention pulled away from the road. As with many distractions, drivers convince themselves that they are talented enough to both pay attention to the road and eat a quick lunch while behind the wheel. Unfortunately, the research simply does not bear this out.

  • According to a study by Lytx, drivers with food and drink are 3.6 times more likely to be in a car crash than their attentive counterparts.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTSA) estimated that 65 percent of near-miss crashes are caused by drivers who are eating or drinking.
  • A study published by researchers at the University of Leeds found that drivers who snacked and drank while driving were up to 44 percent and 22 percent, respectively, slower to react than usual.

While many states have taken a legal stance against cell phone use (either against texting, phone-in-hand conversations or both) there are a lack of rules against eating while driving. Many states have used vague language in their laws so that law enforcement can potentially punish a distracted driver, but this is still a rare exception.

Unfortunately, distracted drivers represent a major cause of serious collisions resulting in devastating injuries. If you were injured, it is wise to discuss your case with an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney.