Today, driving a car can be a complicated process. Although technology has afforded us so many advances, and we now have the luxury of computerized dashboards, we have even more distractions than ever. Many of us drive with our cell phones in our hands, intently listening to conversations or scheduling appointments as we drive in traffic. Texting, talking on the phone, and eating and drinking while driving are all causes for distraction, which could lead to a serious accident.
A recent study suggests that eating while driving is the worst form of distracted driving – even more distracting than texting! In the study, more than 70 percent of drivers admitted to eating behind the wheel, and more than 80 percent admit to drinking (non-alcoholic) beverages while they drive. Another study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) verified that drivers who eat and drink behind the wheel increase their odds of an accident by more than 80 percent! These statistics are alarming and certainly cause for awareness and action.
The most food-related driving accidents occur in the morning when commuters, on their way to work, attempt to eat breakfast and drink coffee at the same time. Since we are concerned about not ruining our freshly pressed office attire, spilling our food on our clothing becomes a serious distraction for drivers who want to immediately clean up the mess. Doing this while operating a vehicle in heavy traffic, or even adverse weather conditions (or both) can have serious consequences.
A Matter of Life and Death
As improbable as it may seem, eating while driving could lead to a fatal crash, as it did for one 48-year-old Georgia woman in 2009. She was eating, alone in her car, and not wearing a seatbelt when she lost control, veered across a busy highway and collided with an oncoming vehicle. She died at an area hospital.
Other accidents like this one have happened all across the country. With the rise of food related accidents comes more legal consultations. From Atlanta to Seattle, attorneys like Stokes & Kopitsky, P.A. are seeing more cases that result in injuries and even death.
Since most spills are what distract a driver who is eating and drinking, the foods that top this list of offenders include the following:
- hot coffee
- messy tacos
- cream-filled donuts
All of these foods have the potential for spilling, oozing, dripping and messing up our clothes. The simple act of cleaning up a mess on your lap could cause you to look away from the road, and in that moment, cause an accident.
What You Can Do
There is a simple solution to this problem: do not eat or drink while driving. We have so many other distractions to contend with while behind the wheel, like talking on the phone and texting – the things that are highly publicized as dangerous – that we often lose sight of other driving distractions as well.
Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier so you can eat before you leave the house. In addition, when ordering from a fast food restaurant, simply pull into the parking lot and enjoy your meal if you don’t want to go inside. It could save your life and the lives of others.
Jamica Bell is a freelance writer and parent. As a busy mother commuting children around to various activities, she has had to make adjustments to drive safer by not eating and driving. Atlanta personal injury attorneys, Stokes & Kopitsky, P.A., have many years of experience defending the legal rights of individuals who have been adversely affected by car accidents.