Eating while driving is incredibly common. One study from ExxonMobil found that of the 1,000 drivers they surveyed, 70% admitted to eating behind the wheel on a regular basis. Any form of distracted driving, which includes eating, has the potential to cause an accident and could be evidence of negligence in a personal injury lawsuit.
Is Eating and Driving Illegal?
In Arizona, there is no specific law that bans eating and driving. There are laws against reckless driving that could theoretically apply to eating while driving in extreme circumstances. Additionally, you can get a ticket for any moving violations that occur while eating and driving, and this behavior increases the risk of making these mistakes.
While eating and driving is not illegal, it is negligent. Distracted drivers put others on the road at risk and if they cause an accident, they may be liable for damages. A personal injury lawyer can help you examine the facts of the case if you were in an accident to determine whether distracted driving was a factor.
How Dangerous is Eating and Driving?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that eating while driving increases the risk of an accident by 80%. This organization also found that 65% of near-miss accidents were caused by someone who was eating and driving at the same time.
This behavior is dangerous because it is a form of distracted driving. Like texting, eating has the potential to include all three types of distractions.
The types of distracted driving, and how eating relates to them, are:
A visual distraction is anything that takes your eyes off the road. This is dangerous because you may not see a hazard or change in road conditions quickly enough to react to it. Eating is a visual distraction because you will need to look at your food at least some of the time.
Manual distractions take one or both of your hands off the wheel, reducing your ability to respond appropriately to what’s going on around you. Eating will require you to have at least one hand off the wheel, and you may need to temporarily remove both hands to open a package.
Many drivers don’t recognize cognitive distractions or consider them as serious as visual or manual distractions, but they can be equally dangerous. A cognitive distraction takes your mind off the road so you are not actively looking for and responding to changing conditions. Eating can be a cognitive distraction because you may be thinking about how the food tastes and how to eat it without making a mess.
Were You Injured in an Accident?
If you were injured due to someone else’s negligence, whether this was eating while driving or another action, we can help. Our personal injury lawyers have extensive experience and will fight to get you the compensation you deserve.
After a car accident, contact us for a free initial consultation.