CLEVELAND --- While much has been written lately about the dangers of behind-the-wheel cell phone use, eating and drinking behind the wheel are even more prevalent and also pose serious risks. Exxon surveyed 1,000 drivers and discovered more than 70 percent of drivers eat while driving and 83 percent drink beverages.
Eating while driving is one of the most distracting things a driver can do, according to a study released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. Eighty percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes involve driver distraction.
According to NHTSA, "Distraction was most likely to be involved in rear-end collisions in which the lead vehicle was stopped, as well as in single-vehicle crashes." Distractions like eating can become a problem for drivers who can't react quickly to a sharp curve or another driver's sudden stop.
What you may not have stopped to consider is that some foods and (non-alcoholic) beverages are worse than others. Insurance.com this month released its "Top 10 Foods to Avoid While Driving." The list is sure to spark heated debate. For starters, why is coffee in a list of "foods." We here at Fleet Central also wonder why they left off shelled nuts, for example? Also, bananas dangerously require two hands -- one to hold and one to peel. And in the midst of cherry season, the whole pit disposal issue comes to mind. We're sure you'll identify some glaring omissions as well. But for what it's worth, here is Insurance.com's "Top 10 Foods to Avoid While Driving":
- Coffee. Even with a travel lid, hot coffee can find its way out of the opening when you hit a bump.
- Hot soup. Many people drink it like coffee and run the same risks.
- Tacos. Any food that can disassemble itself will leave your car looking like a salad bar.
- Chili dogs. Huge potential for drips and slops down the front of clothing.
- Hamburgers. From the grease to the toppings, it could end up on your hands and the steering wheel.
- Ribs and wings. What's more distracting than licking your fingers?
- Fried chicken. More greasy hands. You've got to wipe them off while you're driving.
- Jelly donuts. It's not possible to eat one without watching the center ooze out.
- Soda. Carbonation. Fizz in the nose. Lids that leak. Disaster.
- Chocolate. Try to clean melted chocolate off the steering wheel without swerving.
What food do you think poses the most risk?