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Distracted driving takes many forms

Most Malden residents realize that texting while driving is very dangerous, and thus, avoid this action behind the wheel. However, texting is just the tip of the iceberg of distractions that can divert a driver's attention from the task at hand.

Many — if not most — drivers have eaten a snack or meal while tooling down the highway. Plenty of motorists start off their workdays with a drive-thru run at McDonald's or their fast food franchise of choice.

But eating while driving is another risky action that many drivers never consider could end badly, either for them, others they encounter on the road or both.

Distractions impair abilities

Drivers can experience a trio of distractions — manual, cognitive and visual. Manual distractions involve removing their hands from the steering wheel, cognitive distractions shift the focus from driving to other thoughts and visual distractions divert the drivers' eyes from the road ahead.

Eating while driving can potentially involve all three of these types of distractions. Certainly, a driver must remove hands from the wheel to unwrap the sandwich or biscuit, hold the food while taking bites, adding a dollop of ketchup to fries and use napkins to wipe hands, faces and spills.

They also must glance down at the bag or box from time to time while eating, which removes their eyes from the road for critical seconds. Then, too, if they are pondering which fast food restaurant to patronize, they are not fully concentrating on driving safely.

The danger is real

One research study from 2014 revealed that drivers who eat and drink while driving have a 3.6 greater risk of getting into a collision than drivers who pay attention and refrain from drinking and eating while they drive.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that drivers' engaging in secondary task distractions like drinking and eating behind the wheel increases their risk of having near-misses or accidents by almost 39 percent.

The risk is completely avoidable

Sure, it might save you some time to multitask and eat breakfast during your commute to work. But if it causes you to have a wreck, it's a risk best avoided.

The NHTSA complied a list of the 10 riskiest foods to eat while driving:

  • Chocolate
  • Soft drinks
  • Cream-filled, powdered-sugar and jelly doughnuts
  • Fried chicken
  • Barbecue
  • Hamburgers
  • Chili
  • Tacos
  • Soup
  • Coffee

Simply eating before leaving home averts a potentially dangerous situation. On long trips, allow sufficient time to pull off the highway and eat. If you don't want to lose time by eating inside of a restaurant, just pull over and consume your food before setting forth again toward your destination.

Were you injured in an accident with another driver? It's possible to prove that their distractions caused the accident and your injuries, which opens the door to financial compensation.

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