If asked to describe a distracted driver, someone talking on the phone might immediately come to mind. However, the dangers of multitasking behind the wheel are much more extensive than the use of cellular devices.
Anything that shifts attention away from your immediate task puts you and the motorists around you at risk. Driving distractions often surface in three forms:
- Cognitive –What are you thinking about while you drive?
- Manual – Why are your hands off the wheel?
- Visual – Where are you looking while your vehicle is in motion?
Safety risks are even higher when these categories overlap, as they often do. Consider eating while in control of a motor vehicle, for example.
You might begin your day with a fresh cup of coffee, but how do you react when it’s too hot or, worse yet, it spills? Timewise, a drive-through meal makes sense for a limited lunch break, but do you dip your fries in ketchup? And how much attention do the kids take when they want to grab a quick snack on the way to practice?
Research suggests food and beverage consumption in the driver’s seat increases crash risk by 3.6 times. You might think the statistics apply to you – and they may not – but you’re not alone.
Bad habits can be deadly behind the wheel
According to a recent study, more than half of Americans eat in the driver’s seat. Eating may not be as big of a distraction as phone use; perhaps that is why Texas laws specifically prohibit one but not the other. Regardless, distracted driving in any form should involve much more consideration than potential legal consequences.
Instead of making choices based on convenience, drivers must think about how their actions could negatively, and severely, impact others. Regret does not make up for causing another person to suffer, but negligence does leave room for accountability.