When you think about distractions, you probably don’t immediately imagine that drinking a soda or grabbing a bottle of water is going to make it more likely that you’ll crash. Realistically, though, anything that takes your mind off what you’re doing or your hands off the wheel could make it more likely that you’ll crash.
Eating behind the wheel is a distraction. While most people will have a drink here and there, there are several ways in which drinking any beverage behind the wheel could put you at risk.
The risks of having a drink behind the wheel
Even nonalcoholic beverages can be dangerous. Drinking behind the wheel will take at least one of your hands off the steering wheel as you lift the bottle or cup. If you have to remove a lid or cap, then you might even take both hands off the wheel as you prepare your beverage.
That time with your hands off the wheel is extremely dangerous, because you have no control over the vehicle. Your reaction times will be slower, and you’ll be more likely to crash.
Another big risk of drinking something behind the wheel is the risk of spilling. If you spill a hot or cold drink, you may be distracted by trying to get it off of your clothing or, if it’s hot, avoiding further burns. You might accidentally hit the brake or the acceleration, too, which could lead to a crash.
A third and final reason that drinking something behind the wheel is dangerous is because of the risk of choking. While you probably won’t suffocate from a drink going down the wrong pipe, it could may you cough or vomit. Both are actions that will take your mind off what you’re doing and that could lead to a serious collision.
In any case, the safest thing to do is to save your drinks for when you get to your destination. If you need to eat or drink before you get there, consider pulling over. It’s a safer way to focus on your food, and you’ll be making the roads safer, too.