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Can eating while driving cause accidents?

Like many, you may mistakenly believe that distracted driving has only recently become an issue affecting those on Houston’s roads and highways. That assumption no doubt comes from the notion that when referring to distracted driving, people are typically talking about those who use a cell phone while operating a vehicle. Yet the truth is that driving distractions have been around for decades, and while cell phone use has become the popular topic to focus on in the current moment, there are other activities that pull people’s attention away from the road in a manner that is equally dangerous.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has partnered with the Auto Alliance in defining all of the distractions that one may encounter while driving. These have all been broken down into the following three categories:

  •          Cognitive: Any activities that take one’s focus away from the road
  •          Manual: Any activities force one to take his or her hand(s) off of the wheel
  •          Visual: Any activities that take one’s eyes off of the road ahead

A driver allowing any one of these forms of distraction to affect him or her suddenly can become a real danger to you and other drivers. Imagine how much more dangerous he or she may be if inadvertently practicing all three of them.

There is one common activity that can cause all three of the aforementioned forms of distraction simultaneously: eating. Yet so few people view it as a hazard. This is evidenced by the fact that research done by Exxon Mobil revealed that 70 percent of drivers admitted to eating while driving. If you see the telltale signs of a driver eating (e.g., open containers, discarded wrappings) following an accident, you may have good cause to believe that such a distraction caused the incident. 

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