Many take to Ocean County’s roads every day with the understanding that the potential exists for them to encounter dangerous drivers. Most tend to classify “dangerous drivers” that those who drive while impaired or intoxicated, or people who choose to text or use their phones while driving. The stigma and potential penalties associated with such activities might deter many from doing them, thus seemingly diminishing the number of potentially dangerous drivers on the road. In reality, however, countless people engage in distracting activities that can cause them to become equally as dangerous those who text or drink while driving.
Eating while driving is an action that is almost universally accepted, yet few appreciate the dangers that it poses. While it may seem to be such a mindless task, eating requires drivers to take their eyes and attention off the road, as well as their hands off the steering wheel. Even if the time lost from such distractions is momentary, a moment is all it may take for an attention lapse to cause a catastrophic accident. One need only look at the evidence presented by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to confirm this fact. Its research shows that eating and drinking while driving increases the chances of being involved in a crash (or a near-crash) by 39 percent.
Lawmakers are slowly coming to realize not only the dangers of distracted driving, but also how many types of driving distractions there are. A bill introduced during New Jersey’s 2016-2017 legislative session seeks to extend the application of the state’s distracted driving law to any case in which a driver engages in any activity not specifically related to the operation of their vehicle. At last check, the bill was under review by a state subcommittee.