Eating and Driving: How Much Do Those French Fries Really Cost?

Everyone knows the dangers of texting and driving. And as new laws are being passed across the nation to prevent the use of handheld devices behind the wheel, another cause of distracted driving is not being addressed. And since 18% of all crashes are caused by distracted driving, every cause of this dangerous habit must be brought to light to help others put away distractions and focus on the road.

Eating while driving is an issue getting bigger by the day, with 56% of Americans eating behind the wheel, with 7% doing so every single day. So what’s the real safety issue with eating behind the wheel? Eating causes physical, cognitive, and manual distractions as people take their eyes off the road and their hands off the steering wheel. Studies have shown that a driver’s reaction time is lowered by 44% when eating, which means they are much less likely to be able to react in time to the unknown dangers that come up along the way.

To dive deeper into this safety issue, the team at The Zebra surveyed 1,000+ drivers across the nation to what is usually eaten as a driving snack, and the demographics most likely to eat while driving.

They found that baby boomers are the most likely generation to eat while driving every day (at 13%), while generation X drivers are most likely to never eat behind the wheel. When looking at the gender differences of this dangerous trend, women are more likely than men to eat while driving both a few times a month and daily. But no matter their gender or age, consumers all agree on the top meals most often snacked on behind the wheel: French fries, candy bars, and hamburgers. This isn’t surprising considering America’s fast food habits but means that plenty of drivers have access to their favorite snack around every corner of most major roads and highways.

Take a look at all that The Zebra uncovered about America’s dangerous eating while driving habits in the graphics below, and make sure you are protected from others on the road with comprehensive car insurance.

Sarah Hollenbeck is a writer for The Zebra from Austin, Texas. She is always on the hunt for the latest consumer trends and reports on how these trends will affect drivers and homeowners across the nation. You can also connect with her on Twitter.

Photo attribution: Nick Taylor 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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