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Eating: an important but overlooked source of driver distraction

Drivers being distracted behind the wheel is a huge problem, not only in Upper Marlboro but throughout Maryland and across the United States. However, when it comes to distracted driving, most of the focus in the media and by lawmakers is on texting and the use of phones and other eletronics. A form of distraction that is equally important but garners much less attention is drivers who eat and drink behind the wheel.

Practically everyone has been in a situation where they were in a hurry and had to a grab a bite to eat on the go. In fact, according to Thrillist, 80 percent of drivers drink beverages in their cars and 70 percent have had a meal or snack. When traffic is slow or barely moving, it may seem innocent enough to dig into that hamburger or sandwich. But doing so is incredibly dangerous.

While it may seem difficult in the moment, the much safer option would be for a person to wait until they have reached their destination before eating, advises Decide to Drive. Alternatively, pulling over to the side of the road or into a parking lot would suffice.

Eating requires a person to use a number of different skills at the same, skills that also happen to vitally important to driving. Hands that are holding a burrito and a napkin will not be able to grab the steering wheel in an emergency. A mind that is focused on chewing and not making a mess is unable to concentrate on what is happening around them. Even a few seconds of looking away from the road can lead to a devastating crash. Statistics show that the chances of being involved in an accident increase more than threefold when the driver is drinking or eating.

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