Driving Distractions: Do You Need Cream and Sugar?

Don Doman

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Early one morning last week while sitting at a traffic light, I watched a man eating a bowl of cereal. He carefully lifted each spoonful to his mouth and then drove off when the light changed.

I've been known to eat while driving - wadded up hamburger wrappers under the front seats give ample testimony. The large brown coffee stain on the carpet tells the tale of a sharp turn and a drink carrier stability problem. Occasionally, I clean out the neat little take-out boxes that once held prime rib sandwiches. I know about eating and driving but even I have never eaten cereal while driving, although I was once tempted to sample some doggie-bag spaghetti while driving home from a restuarant.

In our rapid-paced auto-erratic world many people save time by eating on the run. We don't want to eat right . . . we want to eat right now!

Like cell phone use, eating is a distraction and is the cause of many auto accidents, especially in the morning. Food is not so much the culprit, but rather the vehicle. Drivers on their way to work don't want to arrive at the office with a chest full of dribbles. So, they watch for globs, gobs, and drips - taking their eyes off the road.

Taco Bell has taken the need for fast-food driving to heart. Many of their new products are designed to be more drip-dry with thicker shredded cheese and crunchier taco shells that hold together better.

Here are the worst food/accident offenders:
  • Coffee
  • Hot soup
  • Tacos
  • Chili-covered food
  • Juicy hamburgers
  • Barbecue
  • Fried chicken
  • Jelly-and cream-filled donuts
  • Soft drinks
  • Chocolate
    (Source: Haggerty Classic Insurance)
  • To me, chocolate is the shocker on the list. It's so easy to nibble on a chocolate bar or bon bon while driving. It seems so innocuous, but stop and think how chocolate can stain, specially on a hot day. A piece of Brown & Haley Bavarian Crème smeared on your shirt front and you're marked as a sloppy person. Dressing for success does not include food stains.

    What can you do to protect yourself . . . if you want to continue to eat and drive?

    Here are six things that will allow you to continue driving in the fast-food lane:
  • Keep a big linen napkin in your automobile - Use the large napkin to tuck into your collar so any drips fall onto the napkin - like a baby's bib it will help protect your clothes.

  • Keep a roll of paper towels in your car - Paper towels can not only give you something to wipe your hands on, but they're also great for soaking up spills.

  • Use a hardside drink container with a lid - While you can get a paper cup with a plastic lid and drink from that, what sometimes causes a spill is the weak sides of the container colapsing. A hardside container is easier to control . . . and safer.

  • Find a cup holder to accomodate your favorite beverage - In most auto parts stores you can find cup holders for almost any size drinking container. By purchasing one that fits your container you will feel extra safe knowing that your cup holder will keep your container from falling, under normal conditions.

  • Keep a bottle of club soda in your car - If you do spill something on your clothes, knowing that you can possibly clean it up will help alleviate some of your fears about making a mess.

  • Keep a clean shirt or blouse in the auto - It's always smart to have a second set of clothes, just in case . . .
  • By eleminating potential problems and preparing for food accidents you can hopefully reduce distractions and worry. If you do have a massive spill, you'll feel much better knowing that you can still make that morning meeting looking nice, neat and professional . . . if you started out looking that way.

    Author Don Doman: Don is a published author of books for small business, corporate video producer, and owner of Ideas and Training (http://www.ideasandtraining.com ), which provides business training products. Don also owns and Human Resources Radio (http://www.humanresourcesradio.com ), which provides business training programs and previews 24-hours a day.


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