Drivers who are drinking and stuffing their faces while on the road are a serious problem.
Restraining Orders for Food?
Hagerty Classic Insurance, a provider of classic-car insurance, looked more closely at this issue after a DMV check on an insurance applicant turned up a "restraining order" against anything edible within his reach while driving. The man apparently had several accidents attributed to eating while driving on his record.
Eating while driving is one of the most distracting things you can do, according to a study released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. 80% of crashes and 65% of near-crashes involve some form of driver distraction.
Though NHTSA doesn't track specific information on food-related distraction, it does track general distractions. According to NHTSA, "distraction was most likely to be involved in rear-end collisions in which the lead vehicle was stopped and in single-vehicle crashes." What makes distractions like eating such a problem is that they combine with unexpected situations – like a sharp curve or another driver's sudden stop – to cause an accident.
The top 10 food offenders in a car are:
Even in cups with travel lids, somehow the liquid finds its way out of the opening each time you hit a bump.
Many people drink it like coffee and run the same risks.
Any food that can disassemble itself will leave your car looking like a salad bar.
The potential for drips and slops down the front of clothing is significant.
From the grease of the burger to ketchup and mustard, it could all end up on your hands, your clothes, and the steering wheel.
Ditto. The sauce may be great, but if you have to lick your fingers, the sauce will end up on whatever you touch – and that wheel will be tough to grip.
Another food that leaves you with greasy hands, which means constantly wiping them on something, even if it's your shirt.
Jelly or cream-filled donuts
Have you eaten a jelly donut without some of the center oozing out? It's simply not possible.
Not only are they subject to spills, but also the carbonated kind can fizz as you're drinking if you make sudden movements, and most of us remember cola fizz in the nose from childhood. It isn't any more pleasant now.
Like greasy foods, chocolate coats the fingers as it melts, leaving its mark anywhere you touch. As you try to clean it off the steering wheel you're likely to end up swerving.
Insurance companies don't track specific information on eating and driving, because it's too difficult to break it down. But every company knows it's a problem. The difficulty in pinning down the exact cause of accidents lies in separating distractions such as cell phone use, talking to passengers, reading the newspaper, and eating, all of which drivers engage in while also trying to operate a two-ton piece of machinery.
How widespread is this food problem?
In a 2001 survey of 1,000 drivers for Exxon, more than 70 percent of drivers say they eat while driving, up from 58 percent in 1995. Eighty-three percent say they drink coffee, juice, or soda while driving and a few even say they'd love a microwave in their car.
While the NHTSA study doesn't mention eating as a driver distraction, food is probably involved in many crashes. The principal actions that cause distracted driving and lead to vehicle crashes are:
Cell phone use
Reaching for a moving object inside the vehicle
Looking at an object or event outside of the vehicle
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