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Examining the risks posed by eating and drinking while driving

Many in Kern County may already recognize the problem that distracted drivers pose on the area’s highways and roads. One might reasonably argue that such drivers are an even greater risk than those who are intoxicated, as more people may be willing to engage in distracting behavior. Indeed, information shared by Distraction.gov shows that in 2014 alone, 431,000 people were injured by distracted drivers. Most associate distracted driving with cell phone use, yet there are other activities that countless people continue to engage in that may be just as distracting. Among these are eating and drinking.

Data compiled by The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the Auto Alliance reports that eating and drinking while driving can increase the likelihood of being involved in a crash by as much as 80 percent. The reason behind this alarming statistic may be that most believe eating and drinking are such basic tasks that they can be done without requiring added attention. Yet what is not considered in that assumption are the tasks associated with eating and drinking, such as:

  •          Unwrapping food packaging or opening beverage containers
  •          Holding a drink or food item while also attempting to steer
  •          Cleaning up spills on clothing, seats, or on the dashboard

Each of these things can divert one’s attention from the road. When traveling at high speeds, that attention needs only to be misplaced for a few seconds in order to cause an accident.

More study info shared by the Auto Alliance and the AAOS shows that an estimated 70 percent of drivers eat while driving, while another 83 admit to drinking beverages. Given such a high rate of occurrence, it may not be unreasonable to assign eating or drinking while driving as being at least a partial factor in a good number of accidents. 

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