How Common Are Car Accidents Due to Eating While Driving?

Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of fatal car accidents in the United States. Distracted driving is more than just texting and cell phone use, however. A variety of activities can distract a driver behind the wheel, including eating, drinking, adjusting music controls, and reading navigation systems. Many people don’t think about eating when they consider what’s most distracting behind the wheel.

According to one recent survey, 56.7% of Americans reported that they eat and drink while driving. Most Americans live on-the-go. With drive-thru options available at every coffee shop and fast food restaurant – eating while driving feels natural. But just as texting while driving is a risk, so is eating while driving.

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man eating a burger while driving a car

Statistics on Car Accidents Caused by Eating While Driving

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), distracted driving kills about nine people each day in the United States and injures 1,000 more. Distracted driving includes texting on the phone, eating or drinking, talking to other passengers in the car, and anything that takes your attention off the road. A few key statistics on the dangers of driving distracted and eating while driving include:

  • The length of a football field is the distance that drivers who take their eyes off the road for 5 seconds at 55 mph will gol
  • Eating or drinking while driving increases the chances of getting in a car accident by 80%, according to the NHTSA
  • 65% of near-miss car accidents are caused by distracted drivers who are eating or drinking
  • A driver is eight times more likely to be involved in an accident when reaching for an object
  • A driver is three times more likely to be in an accident while eating or drinking

Although many people don’t think twice about eating while driving, our best car accident lawyers say these statistics show that it can indeed be dangerous.

Why Is Eating While Driving Dangerous?

When behind the wheel, drivers have a responsibility to focus on the road and follow all safety precautions to stay safe. When drivers are eating while driving, they’re multi-tasking and taking much of their attention off of the road. The following key reasons why eating while driving is so dangerous:

Eating Requires Two Hands

Eating while driving will undoubtedly require you to take your hands off the wheel at some point. Whether you’re opening a packed burger or applying ketchup to fries, eating while driving guarantees that drivers will be operating with their knees instead of their hands.

Focus Is Not On the road

When you eat while you drive, you’re not focused on what’s going on around you. You might worry about making a mess on your shirt or spilling your drink. Our car accident lawyer say if your focus isn’t on the road, you might miss changes in road patterns or not realize there’s a car in your blind spot.

Delayed Reaction Times

If your eyes and focus aren’t on the road, your reaction times will be slower and delayed. Delayed reactions can cause severe accidents. It only takes a second for a car to slam on their brakes and cause a rear-end accident. By keeping your eyes and focus on the road, your reaction times are quick to respond to sudden changes on the road.

Car Accident where one car rearended another
illustration of couple going through a drive thru and receiving food

Tips to Avoid Eating While Driving

Eating in your car is both dangerous and unhealthy. Most foods that are consumed on-the-go are from a fast-food drive-through or something easy to grab at a convenience store – none of which are very nutritious. Not to mention the mess of wrappers and plasticware that clutters your car when you double it as a dining room. Try the following tips to avoid eating while driving:

Eat Before Leaving

Try to wake up a little earlier to eat before leaving for work, school, or running errands. Eating while driving might save some time when you’re in a hurry, but it’s certainly not enjoyable. Taking an extra 10-15 minutes to eat before driving off to your destination will be much more enjoyable and stress-free.

Keep Food Out of the Car

When you keep food in your car, the temptation to snack while driving can be too much to resist. Get rid of the temptation altogether and make a rule that food is not allowed in your car. You’ll be much happier after your next detail when your car stays fresher and cleaner for weeks longer.

Pick Slim Containers for Drinks

Sometimes you have to have a drink with you when you drive. If it can’t be avoided, drinking (water, juice, or soda) is less distracting than eating. Opt for a slimmer container with an easy-to-open lid that can be held with one hand. Light, slim containers are the easiest to use while driving.

woman eating food at a restaurant

Get a Free Case Evaluation from The Barnes Firm

Distracted driving causes far too many lives to be lost each day on the road. Eating while driving is much more distracting than most would at first think. If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident caused by a driver who was eating or otherwise driving negligent, the car accident attorneys at The Barnes Firm can help.

Our team of experienced and trusted injury lawyers in are experts in handling cases involving car accidents. If you’re hurting because of someone else’s carelessness that caused your injuries, we want to help you get the justice and compensation that you need to recover. To schedule a free consultation, call our office at (800) 800-0000 or complete an online contact form today.

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