As we constantly rush from one place to another, we often forget to give ourselves enough time to eat between destinations. This may lead to eating while driving, which may seem harmless. However, when drivers shift their focus from the road to their food, it’s considered distracted driving. When a motorist is not focused on driving, the consequences can be devastating.
The Albany car accident attorneys from Bailey, Johnson, & Peck, P.C. will elaborate on the dangers of eating while driving and the compensation you could be entitled to if you’re involved in a car accident with a distracted driver.
The experienced attorneys at Bailey, Johnson, & Peck, P.C. have provided legal representation for Albany residents for over 40 years. To discuss your claim with one of our car accident attorneys, schedule a free consultation by calling 518-456-0082 today.
What is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is any action a person engages in while driving that takes their attention off the road and transfers it to something else. Many distracted drivers may not realize that their activities are dangerous because things like changing the radio station or answering a phone call while driving seem harmless. Unfortunately, texting, talking to passengers, and even eating and drinking can be dangerous for other motorists on the road. In fact, distracted driving accidents claimed the lives of over 3,500 individuals in 2021, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
While distracted driving may not seem that dangerous, another statistic provided by the NHTSA states that reading a text can take your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. If you’re driving at 55 mph, that’s the equivalent of driving the length of a football field.
All it takes is a short moment to avoid colliding with a reckless driver or vehicle that has suddenly stopped. When a driver is not paying attention to the road, they can miss that small window of opportunity leading up to catastrophic consequences.
Eating and Driving Statistics
In a 2021 study, American drivers were questioned about their distracted driving habits. Of the drivers polled, over 50% of drivers admit to eating while driving. It shouldn’t be surprising that many drivers eat behind the wheel since we spend so much time in our vehicles during long commutes to work, home, and other places. While eating while driving may seem convenient, it’s just as dangerous as texting while driving.
The NHTSA reports that 65% of near-miss accidents are due to drivers eating or drinking behind the wheel. They also noted that eating while driving increases your chances of being involved in a car accident by 80%. When drivers are more focused on their soft drinks or sandwiches, they are unable to react quickly to sudden changes on the roads.
You may think that eating “easy” foods is safe from the dangers of distracted driving, but you may be surprised at what the NHTSA reported were the most dangerous foods for drivers. The study found that coffee was the most dangerous food (or drink) to consume while driving. Other dangerous foods that the NHTSA listed are soups, tacos, chili, hamburgers, barbecued food, fried chicken, donuts (especially powdered or jelly-filled), soft drinks, and chocolate.
No food is truly “safe” to consume while driving, so it’s best to wait until you reach your destination before enjoying your coffee or hot wings.
Why Eating While Driving is Dangerous
Eating while driving is dangerous because your attention is not 100% on the road and driving. Car accidents can happen in a matter of seconds, and when you’re eating while driving, you may not be able to react quickly enough to avoid them. The Albany car accident attorneys have listed the reasons why eating while driving is such a dangerous habit.
Two Hands Aren’t on the Wheel
When eating, you’re most likely using at least one of your hands to hold the food. When you’re driving, this means there’s one less hand on the wheel. Whether you’re dipping your chicken nuggets in sauce or applying ketchup to your burger, drivers that eat while driving often drive with one or no hands on the steering wheel. Those consuming less than convenient foods, like tacos, may even steer with their knees.
Eating is a Distraction
Whether you realize it or not, eating while driving is a distraction. If you’re driving back to work after picking up lunch, you may be more focused on not spilling your cream-filled donut on your shirt, which means that’s less attention that you’re paying to the road. Even something as simple as a candy bar can cause a distraction and mess, especially if it’s chocolate.
Delayed Reaction Times
As mentioned before, when you’re driving while eating, your focus is on your food instead of the road ahead of you, causing delayed reaction times. Even a brief distraction can cause car accidents. When drivers pay attention to their surroundings, they can anticipate changes in traffic by noticing brake lights or construction signs instead of worrying about the ketchup packet that fell under the driver’s seat.
Tips to Avoid Eating While Driving
The convenience of drive-thrus makes eating while driving so tempting, especially since drivers are often in a hurry to get from one destination to another. We take short lunch breaks, spread ourselves too thin, and don’t allow ourselves enough time to eat a regular sit-down meal. There are ways you can avoid eating while driving, but it’ll take some extra planning before hitting the road.
Eat Before Leaving the House
Schedule more time before heading to work in the morning or running errands, and allow yourself time to eat. Yes, eating while driving can cut down on time, but it’s usually messy and rushed. If you give yourself an extra ten minutes before driving to work, you can enjoy your meal and avoid driver distractions. Eating before you leave your home also increases the chances that you’ll consume a healthier meal than you would if you were to eat while driving.
If you’re traveling on a road trip or just picking something up for lunch, consider eating in the restaurant’s parking lot. The few extra minutes you take to eat your food in the parking lot instead of on the road can prevent a dangerous distraction.
Ban Food From the Car
Keeping food in your car can be tempting when avoiding manual distractions. By banning food from your car, you remove the temptation and ensure you’re always driving safely.
Choose Slim Drink Containers
While it may be difficult to avoid, try to choose slim drink containers with caps or lids if you need something to drink while driving. Steer away from the large to-go cups that fast food places and gas stations sell and opt for bottled water or soda. Slim drink containers with lids are easier to handle while driving.
Can You Sue for Distracted Driving?
When drivers are eating while driving or are otherwise distracted, they can be responsible for causing car accidents. If you were involved in a car accident where the other driver was distracted, you could file a lawsuit against them. Drivers are required to exercise a standard of care while driving, and when they act negligently by driving distracted, they put their passengers and other motorists at risk.
If you were injured by a distracted driver, the car accident attorneys at Bailey, Johnson, & Peck, P.C., will evaluate your case and work with you to prove that negligence occurred and therefore led to your injuries. In order to build a strong claim against the distracted driver, your Albany car accident attorney will collect evidence like photo or video footage, the official police report, medical records of your injuries, witness statements, and more.
Car Accident Damages
Determining the amount of compensation you may receive following a successful personal injury lawsuit can be challenging. All car accident claims are different and are influenced by a number of factors, like the extent of the victim’s injuries and the length of time they had to miss work. When you work with Bailey, Johnson, & Peck, P.C., you can guarantee that your attorneys will work to recover maximum compensation for your injuries. We’ve been able to win the following damages for our car accident clients:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Physical therapy
- Property damages
- Future medical expenses
- And more
You could have a wrongful death claim if your loved one were killed in a car accident caused by a negligent driver. Family members are entitled to certain damages, like funeral and burial expenses, that differ from the damages you could receive from a personal injury lawsuit. Contact the compassionate attorneys at Bailey, Johnson, & Peck, P.C. to discuss your legal options surrounding a wrongful death claim.
Call Albany Car Accident Lawyers at Bailey, Johnson & Peck Today
Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car accidents, and it can be avoided. You may not have realized how dangerous eating while driving is, but it’s just as dangerous as texting while driving. Consider using the tips we’ve listed above to avoid eating while driving and, in turn, help make our roads safer.
If you were involved in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, you could be entitled to financial compensation. To schedule a free case evaluation with one of our experienced attorneys, call Bailey, Johnson, & Peck, P.C., at 518-456-0082 today.