Perhaps you’ve noticed fast food breakfasts have become more and more “holdable” in the past few years. Taco Bell introduced the A.M. Crunchwrap, which places all the breakfast ingredients into a perfectly folded tortilla which can easily be held with one hand. McDonald’s, Burger King and many others also have breakfast foods which can theoretically be eaten with one hand. Since many Americans are so busy they don’t have the time to sit down and eat breakfast each morning—and are likely to grab fast food for lunch as well—this translates into a large number of meals eaten behind the wheel of a vehicle. In fact, eating and drinking, while operating a vehicle is so common in the United States that more than 70 percent of drivers in a recent survey admitted to “regularly” eating while driving. Nearly 84 percent of drivers admit they usually drink a beverage while driving.
Eating or Drinking Behind the Wheel Leads to Distracted Drivers
Most American drivers don’t even realize the level of driving impairment they suffer when they eat while behind the wheel. A study done by the NHTSA explored food related car accidents and how eating and drinking can divert the attention of drivers, leading to potentially serious accidents. Distracted driving is to blame for anywhere from 20-45 percent of all car accidents. Distracted driving is any type of secondary task performed while behind the wheel. These distractions include texting, talking on the phone, eating or drinking, changing radio stations or fiddling with the GPS, turning around to see what the children in the back seat are doing, talking to a passenger, watching something on the side of the road, or even daydreaming. These non-driving-related tasks require a driver to take their attention away from the road and the drivers around them. Even if the distraction is only a few seconds, that few seconds is enough to collide with another car, particularly if that car stops or turns suddenly.
All Three Types of Distractions are Present in Eating and Drinking While Driving
Some distractions are visual, some are cognitive, and some are manual. Eating and drinking involves all three types of distractions. Think about the tasks you perform when you eat and drink while driving. You unwrap, open a straw, insert the straw in a small hole, try to avoid spilling food or drink, and, if you do spill, you attempt to wipe up the spill, while holding your food, while driving. While these actions, in and of themselves, are not particularly dangerous, a driver’s ability to process information on the road is much less efficient when the driver is eating. Further, if you spill a hot beverage on yourself while driving down the road, you are dealing with burning skin and a mess in your car.
Most Dangerous Foods and Beverages to Consume While Driving
There are obviously some foods which are much riskier to eat while you drive. As an example, eating a stick of jerky is unlikely to be nearly as dangerous while driving as eating a piece of pizza, a hamburger or a taco. Hot coffee, tea and soup top the list for foods which are particularly dangerous to eat or drink while driving. Messy foods like tacos and sandwiches, which have the potential to fall apart while you are eating, also are among the most dangerous foods to eat while driving.
Greasy or salty foods are also risky, as you will inevitably end up searching for napkins, and your steering wheel is likely to become slippery in the process. Drinks without lids are dangerous—which is why “to-go” cups and mugs were invented. While there are no laws which prohibit drivers from zipping through the drive-through and eating on the run, this does not mean the practice is safe. In the end, using your car as a moving restaurant is risky, and could potentially lead to a fatal crash. Avoid this distraction while you drive and get to your destination safely. If you were injured by a driver who was distracted while eating or drinking, it is important to ensure your rights are protected and you have a knowledgeable advocate in your corner. Speak to a personal injury attorney who can handle all the details of your auto collision while you concentrate on healing.
Contact Our Denver Car Accident Lawyers
If you have been injured in a car accident with a distracted driver, it is important to know that the law is on your side. An experienced Denver car accident lawyer can help you during this difficult time and negotiate with insurance companies to ensure that you receive all the money to which you are entitled. Contact Gregory A. Gold of the Gold Law Firm today for a free consultation at (303) 694-4653.