You might feel the urge to stop by your favorite coffee drive-thru on the way to work, or to get a cheeseburger from a fast food place on your lunch break. While many people think nothing of eating while driving to and from a place of work or leisure, the truth is that eating while driving may distract you from keeping your full attention on the road.

According to Automotive Fleet, eating as you drive can be a real problem. It can divert your attention from your driving, increasing the odds that you will get into an automobile accident. Eating while driving is not as common among all drivers, but nonetheless, it can be a real problem for anyone who does it.

Crash risks

The Automotive Fleet article cites research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The IIHS found that if you drive as you eat or drink, you increase your odds of a crash about 70%. Also, eating while driving is a common distracted driving behavior. The IIHS study discovered that eating while driving ranks slightly beneath holding a cell phone or conversing with somebody on a phone as a distracted driving behavior.

Demographics

The study did not find that every driver is equally likely to eat a burger or sip a coffee while behind the wheel. The top age group for this kind of behavior was people between 40-50 years old. Drivers 20-30 years old ranked in second place, followed by 16-17 year old drivers and older people aged 60-70.

Also, people who were likely to eat behind the wheel were individuals who tended to drive without passengers. They were also more prone to eating and driving at an earlier time in the day. Drivers who ate also tended not to do any other kind of activity. If they ate or drank behind the wheel, they were unlikely to talk on the phone or text someone.

Driving Safely

Safe driving remains critical to prevent a devastating car accident. Even though taking a bite of a sandwich while driving might not seem like an activity as distracting as carrying on a phone conversation, it still divides your attention from the road and can be as dangerous as talking or texting.