Eating While Driving Worse Than Drinking

Researchers from the University of Leeds have conducted a study of driver distractions and found some surprising results. Though many may believe drunk driving to be more dangerous than eating while driving, their research showed just the opposite is true.

In simulated driving experiences, increased reaction times were observed for eating, texting, drinking a non-alcoholic beverage and driving drunk. Eating increased reaction times by 44 percent, texting by 37 percent and drinking by 22 percent. It was driving while intoxicated that had the lowest increase in reaction time, at 12.5 percent.

One would have to be careful when interpreting the last result, because driving while drunk causes many accidents, including fatal ones. The point of the comparison was to emphasize the relative risk of the other distractions, not to diminish concerns about drunk driving.

There are many efforts made to inform the public about the dangers of drunk driving, but comparatively little education on the hazards of eating while driving. There might also be more awareness of the danger of driving while using a cell phone, due to various bans prohibiting such activity.

“It is accepted that the distraction of talking on a hand-held mobile phone may increase accident risk. However, other activities that involve taking one hand off the wheel, such as eating or drinking, may also cause distraction,” said University of Leeds spokeswoman Professor Samantha Jamson. (Source:

Driving distracted causes thousands of deaths every year, yet it is a behavior anyone can easily learn to stop. Becoming aware of the dangers involved is the first step in learning safer driving habits.

Image Credit: Tdmalone, Wiki Commons

Related Links
Driving Distracted Kills Thousands Each Year
Is Driving with a Dog on Your Lap Dangerous?
Just a Text? Distracted Driving Has Serious Consequences

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Past Member
Past Member 6 months ago

Keep it up!! You have done the nice job having provided the latest information. Calgary Driving School

Laura Saxon
Past Member 2 years ago

People should pull over to eat so they don't get in an accident or cause accidents.

Jude Hand
Judith Hand2 years ago

Yup. And I agree with a commenter who mentioned the danger of phones. Recently, I've noticed that almost every single case in which a fellow driver is very low in speed, doesn't use their direction signal, doesn't respond to a traffic light, etc. they've got a cell phone up to their ear. And often, when I spot them, they still aren't paying attention to the road ahead of them. In keeping with the article, yes, all distractions are legit concerns when it comes to driving, including eating (or reaching for the coffee or soda). I'm more accustomed to the feeling of not having both hands of the wheel at all times, as I drive a standard. But we're not kids. We know the rules. Hopefully, our lazy choices won't cause an accident!

a             y m.
g d c.3 years ago

multi-tasking while driving is a no-no...

Michele Wilkinson

Thank you

John S.
Past Member 3 years ago

I imagine so, but I think that drinking alcohol while driving is probably worse than drinking and then driving.

Donna B.
Donna B.3 years ago

People should just drive. What scares me is I see SO many people talking on their phones and they're not even paying attention. They run red lights, make turns when they shouldn't, etc.. Leave the phone alone people!

Veronica C.
Veronica C.3 years ago

Maybe eating is just as dangerous. I can't underestimate the dangers of drinking and driving.

Laura Austin
Laura Austin3 years ago

If your pet is in your lap, your pet is in a VERY dangerous position and may be killed. Your driving may not be in question; what about that drinking, eating, sleeping, texting, etc. other driver?

Debra Griffin
Debra B.3 years ago

Not at all surprising