When you think of distractions, do you think about things like texting and driving or talking on the phone? There’s actually an act that many people participate in that they may not think causes a distraction, but it does. That act is eating or drinking behind the wheel.

When you think about it, you can imagine the time it takes to go through a fast-food bag or to unwrap a burger. You take your hand or hands off the wheel. You have to think about unwrapping it. You might need to unwrap a straw or try to insert it into your cup. You might have trouble finding the cup holder without looking down.

All of these actions are distracting and can lead to a collision. Eating can cause all three kinds of distractions, cognitive, manual and visual. Each distraction on its own is dangerous, but when they’re in combination, there is a real risk of harm coming to yourself or others.

What can you do to avoid a crash related to eating and driving?

The best option is to avoid drinking or eating behind the wheel in the first place. That might not be possible for everyone, so another option is to ride as a passenger while you eat and then to have your passenger switch with you when they want to eat. A third option is to stop at the restaurant and eat or to park while eating, so you can avoid eating while driving.

Distractions can lead to serious collisions. Our website has more on what to do if you’re involved in a collision with someone who is eating behind the wheel.