Most people understand that distracted driving is dangerous driving. More and more, we hear of serious car accidents happening due to drivers that are distracted for one reason or another. Many people only think of electronic devices such as cell phones when they hear the words ‘distracted driving.’ However, many other things happen inside of a vehicle that can cause distractions for a driver. For as long as cars have been around, there have been distracted drivers. One of the most distracting things a person can do inside of a vehicle is eat.

Why is eating so distracting when driving?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), distracted driving kills approximately nine people and injures approximately 1,000 people in the United States every day. To understand why eating and driving is so dangerous, we have to look at the CDC’s definition of distracted driving. They describe three main types of distraction on the roadway, including:

  • Visual: Taking your eyes off the road.
  • Manual: Taking your hands off the wheel.
  • Cognitive: Taking your mind off of driving.

Eating requires taking her eyes off the road, even if only for a short period of time. Eating requires taking one or both hands off the wheel. Eating requires thinking about the food, therefore taking a person’s mind off the road.

According to the CDC, at 55 mph, taking your eyes off the road for about five seconds is long enough to cover an entire football field of driving distance. Eating and driving is a recipe for disaster on the roadway.

Accidents like this are preventable

In July 2012, West Virginia passed a cell phone and texting ban while driving. This law prohibits the use of a cell phone without hands-free technology and texting while operating a motor vehicle. West Virginia, along with most other states in the US, understands that the use of a cell phone while driving is a major distraction because it takes a person’s hands, mind, and eyes off the roadway.

Yet there is no ban on eating while driving, despite the fact that eating also takes a person’s hands, mind, and eyes off the roadway.

During the latest reporting year in West Virginia, there were 1,381 severe injuries and 269 fatalities on the roadways across the state. Many thousands more sustained less severe injuries that still led to major medical expenses and suffering. While we do not have solid statistics on how many of these accidents were caused by eating and driving, we know they occur.

What are the most common injuries caused by eating and driving?

Whether an eating and driving incident involves a single vehicle or multiple vehicles, these incidents often lead to serious injuries for drivers and passengers. It is not uncommon for eating and driving car accidents to cause the following injuries:

  • Broken and dislocated bones
  • Severe lacerations
  • Internal organ damage
  • Internal bleeding
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Whiplash injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Concussions

These injuries often require immediate and significant medical treatment. Victims of eating and driving car crashes may need extended medical care that can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Many severe car accident injuries, such as spinal cord damage, can cost as much as a million dollars in medical treatment.