You’re sitting at a light and look to the right to see a guy eating a burger. To the left is a woman drinking coffee. Not only is it dangerous to eat and drive, but those who do run the risk of paying more for car insurance, according to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.
In fact, 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes involve driver distraction.
“Distractions, like eating, can become a problem for drivers who can't react quickly to a sharp curve or another driver's sudden stop,” the NHTSA said in a news release. “Unfortunately, just one accident may increase your car insurance rates as much as 25 percent.”
The agency even issued a top-10 list of the most hazardous foods to eat or drink while driving:
* Coffee – because even with a lid, hot coffee can find its way out of the opening. * Hot soup – same premise. * Tacos – because any food that can disassemble itself will leave your car looking like a salad bar. * Chili dogs – create a 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 – seriously, what's more distracting than licking your fingers? * Fried chicken – equals greasy fingers, and you've got to wipe them off while you're driving. * Jelly donuts – impossible to eat without having the center ooze out. * Soda – the combination of fizz in the nose and lids that leak is a recipe for disaster. * Chocolate – unless it’s M&M’s, there’s less of a chance it will melt in your mouth and not in your hands.
Just how much of a problem is this? Exxon surveyed 1,000 drivers and discovered more than 70 percent eat while driving and 83 percent drink beverages.
The NHTSA study cites these driver distractions as the top reasons for car crashes - and ultimately higher auto insurance rates:
* Using a cell phone * Reaching for a moving object * Looking at an object or event outside of the vehicle * Reading * Tweeting * Applying makeup