You're coming home from work when a car pulls out of the local McDonald's and cuts you off. The driver accelerates wildly and swerves between the lanes.
You slam on the brakes, holding back a yell. For a moment, the car straightens out, but it begins to slow down. Over the next mile it goes slower and slower and then starts drifting off to the right. As it hits the shoulder and rocks and dirt begin flying everywhere, the drivers straightens out and speeds up.
It has to be a drunk driver, you think. When the car's speed evens out a bit, you safely move to pass in the left-hand lane. You look over as you go by to see how much this guy has had to drink at 6 in the evening, thinking about calling the police.
But the driver isn't necessarily drunk. He's eating his fast food. When he cut you off, it's because he started pulling into traffic while still checking to make sure he had everything he ordered. When he drifted over the line, he was unwrapping his hamburger. When he was slowing down and driving off the road, he was trying to dig the spilled fries out of the bottom of the bag.
The fact that you thought he was drunk underscores the danger of eating and driving. It's a huge distraction. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has linked it to a high percentage of car accidents. Texting and driving gets more press, but eating and driving is just as dangerous, even though it's very common and flies under the radar.
Foods you should never eat
If you want to stay safe on Florida's highways, here are seven foods you should never eat behind the wheel:
- Hamburgers. They can drip and the grease makes your hands slick on the steering wheel.
- Coffee. Hot coffee spilling in someone's lap has caused accidents before, and it will again.
- French fries. If you thought that burger was greasy, every fry leaves a trail of grease behind, as well.
- Soup. Even trying to eat soup and drive is challenging because you need one hand for the bowl and one for your spoon. Driving with your knees is incredibly dangerous, and scalding hot soups carry the same spill risk as coffee.
- Candy. Gummy candy can spill and distract you while you pick it up. Chocolate candy can melt to your fingers so that the steering wheel is even harder to hold ... or it can make you reach for scads of napkins in the glove compartment.
- Ice cream. It seems fine at first, but it's a huge issue as it begins to melt in your hot car.
- Ribs. Avoid anything coated in BBQ sauce.
The takeaway here is that it's dangerous to eat anything while you drive. If another driver can't wait until he or she gets home and causes a distracted driving accident, injuring you, make sure you know all of your options.