Drive-thru Dangers: How Behind-the-Wheel Eating Habits Affect Your Driving

Drive-thru Dangers
How Behind-the-Wheel Eating Habits Affect Your Driving

Andrei Zakhareuski
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Andrei Zakhareuski

Cheeseburgers, tacos, cold-cut sandwiches, sodas, ice cream cones, hot wings.

Today’s drivers have access to all types of foods through the marvelous modern convenience of the restaurant drive-thru window. Since the middle of the twentieth century, motorists have been able to order and consume their favorite foods without removing the key from their vehicle’s ignition or their bodies from the driver’s seat. But is enjoying your lunch behind the wheel really a good idea?

Consider this: the National Highway Traffic Administration conducted a study that found eating to be a greater distraction while driving than cell phone use. While almost half of drivers surveyed consider eating and drinking while driving to be a distraction, almost all are guilty. Before you enjoy your next convenient store slushie or extra-large order of fries while navigating the roads, consider these reasons not to eat and drive:

4 Reasons not to Eat and Drive:

  1. 1

    Eating almost always takes both hands off the wheel

    There are a thousand things that can distract a driver’s attention from the road, but eating is one of the worst! Fast food items come in paper bags that must be unfolded, wrappers that must be removed, require sauce packets that must be torn and squirted, and often drip onto the most inconvenient surfaces. If you bring along leftovers from home to consume during your commute, you must juggle container lids, cutlery, and less-than-convenient foods like spaghetti and steak. There’s simply no safe way to have your cake and drive, too.

  2. 2

    (Non-alcoholic) Drinking and driving can be dangerous, too

    Quenching your thirst while operating a vehicle can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. Large to-go cups can obscure your field of vision as you bring them towards your mouth for a gulp. Straws need to be unwrapped and inserted into lids, taking your hands and eyes off of the road for several seconds. Popular twenty ounce sodas have caps that can be awkward to remove and replace and seemingly take on a life of their own as the fly through the vehicle and under the seat, never to be found again.

  3. 3

    Allowing passengers to eat in your car distracts your attention from the road

    A backseat full of friends chowing down on burgers and fries can be just as distracting as enjoying some drive-thru fare yourself. The smells and sounds of passengers eating while you are attempting to concentrate on the important task of driving, not to mention offers of fries and “bites,” can tempt you to turn around and take your eyes off the road.

  4. 4

    A car full of clutter equals a distracted, dangerous driver

    Every time you hit-up the drive-thru for a quick bite to eat, you are left with a paper sack full of trash, an empty cup, and a pile of greasy napkins. It’s easy to toss this mess into the floor board, creating a potentially hazardous cluttered driving environment.

Treating your vehicle like a make-shift dining room is asking for more than a big mess. Eating while driving puts yourself and other motorists at a higher risk of a crash.

How to make chowing down in the car less common:

  1. 1

    Eat before you leave

    Duh! Just don’t do it! Finish your bag of chip and take one last gulp of soda before you head out the door.

  2. 2

    Don’t keep food in your vehicle

    A candy bar stuffed in the glove box is just too much to resist. If you must bring food with you when driving, store it in your back seat, well out of arm’s reach, so that grabbing a snack on the freeway isn’t an option.

  3. 3

    Eat in the parking lot

    If you go through a drive-thru to pick-up your lunch, take a few minutes to eat it in the restaurant’s parking lot. When you are finished eat, throw away your trash in the receptacles most chains have conveniently located among their parking spots.

  4. 4

    If you must, opt for a slim container

    If you must bring along a drink to stay hydrated on a long drive, opt for a slim container with an attached lid that you can open with one hand or your teeth.

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