In many instances, it might feel that vehicle manufacturers have conspired against drivers encouraging them to multitask while behind the wheel. From huge infotainment screens to heads-up displays, each technological advance seems to make it easier for drivers to turn their attention away from the road and perform additional tasks while behind the wheel. Unfortunately, these activities can lead to devastating collisions.
Many drivers often decide it is safe to have a snack, drink or complete meal while behind the wheel. While these activities might be beneficial as a multitasking time-saver, they represent times when the driver is not paying attention to the road. Factors that can encourage a driver to eat or drink while behind the wheel can include:
- Drive-thru restaurants on busy corners or highway exits make a quick stop more appealing
- Cup holders strategically placed around the vehicle’s cabin make a travel mug of coffee convenient
- Eating breakfast on the way to an early class or shift
- Eating dinner on the way home from a long day at work
While a strategic time-saver, dining and driving represents an activity that crosses the boundaries of the different types of distractions. This activity can be a cognitive distraction, manual distraction and visual distraction all at the same time.
Too often, people engage in lengthy discussions about the ethics of fines and other legal consequences of dining and driving. In many instances, however, these individuals have missed the point. The crucial factor is the recognition that eating or drinking while behind the wheel is a safety issue. The act of removing one’s hands from the steering wheel, eyes from the road or focus from the safe operation of the vehicle can result in injury-causing crashes.
Some drivers wouldn’t dream of engaging in a cell phone conversation or texting while driving but think nothing of eating their entire dinner as they navigate busy streets on the way home from work. A distracted driver can drift into oncoming lanes, miss safety signals, enter an intersection in an unsafe manner or fail to identify stopped traffic. These collisions can result in serious soft tissue injuries, broken bones or whiplash.