Eating Behind the Wheel Can Lead to Car Accidents

June 25, 2018 — by Mark T. Flickinger, JD
Tags: Car Accidents Auto Accidents

Eating a cheeseburger while drivingAccording to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an estimated 391,000 people were injured in distracted driving-related car accidents in 2015. In 2016, 3,450 people were killed in accidents that involved driver distraction.

While cellphones are one of the most common reasons why people are distracted today, eating and drinking is also a significant contributing factor to these kinds of crashes. The lawyers at our Provo, UT law firm would like to consider the hazards of eating behind the wheel. We’ll then offer some tips on how to eat and drink safely while you are on a drive.

Dangers When Hands Are Off the Wheel

If you are eating while driving, at least one of your hands is not gripping the wheel. For example, if you are holding a cheeseburger in one hand while driving, you are only driving with one hand. These issues become worse with certain kinds of foods, such as large sandwiches or burritos. In the worse kinds of scenarios, a driver may be driving without their hands on the wheel as they eat.

Drinks Can Also Pose Hazards

While foods can be a major source of distraction, the same goes for beverages. Unscrewing a cap from a bottle takes hands off the wheel, which could lead to collisions. Tipping a cup or bottle back for the last drops of a drink can obscure your vision as well, which might mean the difference between a collision and a near miss.

Problems When Reaching for Food and Beverages

Beyond eating and drinking, reaching for food items can also lead to a number of hazards. If the food or drink is in the backseat rather than nearby, the act off lunging or racing could result in the loss of vehicle control and/or taking your eyes off the road. These sources of distraction can be deadly.

Tips for Eating and Drinking Behind the Wheel

If you are driving for a long period of time and expect to eat or drink behind the wheel, consider these tips:

  • Have the food or beverage near you so it is easy to access
  • Make sure packaging is opened before you drive so you don’t struggle behind the wheel
  • Eat simple snack foods that can be eaten easily by the handful
  • Use cup holders to keep your beverages nearby
  • Use a drinking straw or leave caps loose to make drinking easier
  • Consider eating behind the wheel a chance for snacking, not eating a full meal

If you need to stop for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, be sure to find a place where you can park your vehicle, such as a rest area or a park. Eat your full meal when you vehicle is not in motion.

Who Is Legally Liable in These Kinds of Crashes?

While it depends on the evidence of the case, the driver who is preoccupied or distracted is usually liable for any crashes the occur. If you or a loved one were struck by a distracted driver, our law firm can help.

Contact the Lawyers of Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton

For more information about your legal options, be sure to contact our team of auto accident lawyers. The attorneys at the firm of Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton are here to help you in your time of legal need.