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Put the coffee down: Why dining and driving is a distraction

On Behalf of | Jan 19, 2022 | Personal Injury

The desire to multitask while behind the wheel tempts drivers of all ages and experience levels. Unfortunately, even a simple task can pull focus from the act of safely navigating a busy city street or fast-moving highway lane. No matter the situation, drivers should wait until they’ve safely reached their destination before attempting any additional tasks.

Safety experts tend to classify distracted driving activities into three categories:

  • Manual distractions require the use of one or both hands.
  • Visual distractions require drivers to look away from the road.
  • Cognitive distractions pull a driver’s focus and attention from the road and their immediate environment.

Unfortunately, drivers who choose to eat or drink while behind the wheel commonly experience distractions that often encompass two or even all three distracting elements. For example, taking a sip of coffee from a travel mug could easily cover all three categories:

  • Reaching for the coffee mug requires the use of a hand.
  • Turning the cup up to get the last few drops of liquid could easily obscure the driver’s view of the road.
  • Thinking about whether to get a refill on the way to work, and where is the closest location, and where is the best-tasting beverage, could all interrupt the driver’s cognition.

In data released for the 2019 calendar year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration noted that distracted driving was a factor in motor vehicle collisions resulting in 3,142 fatalities during that year alone. While some distractions – such as participating in a text conversation – are more obvious than others, any type of distraction can lead to a serious crash.

While it often feels like society and vehicle manufacturers conspire to encourage distracted driving, drivers must fight this temptation. From the prevalence of drive-thru food establishments to the convenience of multiple cup-holders in a vehicle cabin, any trip seems ready-made for dining and driving. Unfortunately, even this common activity can lead to severe collisions with catastrophic injuries.