Distractions are the number one cause of crashes (85% of crashes and 65% of near-crashes involve driver distraction), according to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. “Distraction was most likely to be involved in rear-end collisions in which the lead vehicle was stopped, as well as in single-vehicle crashes,” according to the NHTSA.
And we know accidents can be costly: Just one accident might increase your car insurance rates as much as 25%, according to a release about the study from Insurance.com, an auto insurance agency. The study cites these driver distractions as the top reasons for car crashes:
- Using a cell phone. It might seem easy to take client calls in the car, but it’s not safe.
- Reaching for a moving object. BlackBerry slip under the seat again? Leave it there.
- Looking at an object or event outside of the vehicle. Maybe a GPS could help keep you from scanning for street signs.
- Reading. It’s a good thing your BlackBerry is under the seat so you can’t read your e-mails.
- Applying makeup. Do those last-minute touch-ups when you arrive at your next meeting.
Eating can often be a source of the above distractions, but you’re not alone if you need your coffee in the car: An Exxon survey of 1,000 drivers found more than 70% of drivers eat while driving and 83% drink beverages.
Most likely you are aware of the disasters messy foods can cause not just to your steering wheel, but the tie you put on for your next meeting. You might still be guilty of some of the items on “the top 10 foods to avoid while driving” list from Insurance.com:
- Coffee: “Even with a travel lid, hot coffee can find its way out of the opening when you hit a bump.”
- Hot soup: “Many people drink it like coffee and run the same risks.”
- Tacos: “Any food that can disassemble itself will leave your car looking like a salad bar.”
- Chili dogs: “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: “What’s more distracting than licking your fingers?”
- Fried chicken: “More greasy hands. You’ve got to wipe them off while you’re driving.”
- Jelly donuts: “It’s not possible to eat one without watching the center ooze out.”
- Soda: “Carbonation. Fizz in the nose. Lids that leak. Disaster.”
- Chocolate: “Try to clean melted chocolate off the steering wheel without swerving.”