Eating and Drinking: A Form of Distracted Driving?

Many campaigns against distracted driving are focused on cell phone usage, and for good reason: research performed in 2015 counted a whopping 660,000 drivers talked on the phone or texted while they were driving. Studies about how cell phone use affects driving are obviously important, but they do tend to take the focus off another form of distracted driving: eating and drinking.

Eating and Drinking While Driving Leads to Slower Reactions 

Compared to the number of deadly crashes that involve texting and driving, you may incorrectly assume that eating or drinking while driving is harmless. In fact, you would not be alone in that thought: a recent study by Exxon Mobile found that 70% of drivers eat when they drive, while 82% drink beverages. But snacking while driving is hardly the best idea. A University study found that drivers who ate were 44% slower to react. Those who drank in the car had a 22% slower reaction time.

How Eating and Drinking Impair a Driver

It seems like it should be easy to eat without taking your eyes off the road, but in reality, it can take your focus from what is most important.  Eating or drinking while driving:

  • Impairs your vision: If you’re unwrapping a snack or trying to poke a straw through a drink cap, your eyes are on what you’re doing, not the road.
  • Affects your manual actions: Eating or drinking while driving involves you taking at least one hand off the steering wheel for extended periods of time.
  • Dilutes your overall focus: If you drop some food in your lap or on the ground, your first instinct is usually to look for it or reach for it. Reaching into a bag, passing food out to others in the car, or spilling your drink are also ways your attention can be diverted.

It may appear as if many of the behaviors named above are harmless, since they take your attention away for mere seconds, but not enough to lose focus entirely. But consider this: according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), if you’re traveling at a speed of 55 miles per hour and you take your eyes off the road for just five seconds, you will have traveled the length of a football field. That’s a lot of distance in which something could go wrong.

Injured by a Distracted Driver? We Can Help.

If you were injured in an automobile accident cause by a distracted driver, you may want to call a personal injury attorney to discuss your options. A driver who was eating or drinking and caused an accident was behaving negligently, and you are entitled to collect compensation for the injuries you’ve suffered. Contact Udall Shumway, PLC today to speak to one of our capable attorneys.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you or someone you know wishes to seek the help of an experienced personal injury attorney regarding Distracted Driving, or other personal injury matters, call 480.461.5300. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.