A recent study by Exxon Mobil Corp. reveals that at least 70 percent of drivers admit to eating while driving and another 83 percent admit to drinking beverages. While this may not seem like a big deal, eating or drinking while driving could be even more dangerous than texting. New statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that 80 percent of all car accidents and 65 percent of “close calls” are caused by distracted drivers, many of whom are munching or sipping rather than focusing on the road.
Coffee Ranks Number One
Of all the things you could eat or drink on the road, coffee is the worst, according to studies. Even with a travel lid on the beverage, the chances of coffee spilling when a driver hits a bump are high, and having scalding liquid land on your lap is sure to cause stress and slow down reaction times to dangers in the road.
Coffee and other hot drinks made the top of the list of most dangerous foods, but studies also indicate that burgers, tacos, hot dogs, fried chicken and doughnuts can also be dangerous due to the increased need for “hands-on” management of these types of foods. Even soda made the list due to the possibility of it spilling or fizzing while driving.
Distracted Driving Dangers
While a great deal of focus has been placed on texting and driving, there are other distracted driving factors such as food or drink that are largely ignored. The fact is that anything that takes a driver’s attention away from the road can be considered dangerous.
According to Distraction.gov, the government’s website devoted to the topic of distracted driving, the following can be considered activities that can take a driver’s attention away from driving long enough to be considered dangerous:
- Using a cell phone
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to others in the car
- Brushing hair
- Applying makeup
- Using a navigation system or GPS
- Watching a video
- Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player
Additionally, Distraction.gov offers the following frightening statistics:
- In 2011, 3,360 people were killed in distracted driving crashes. This number decreased slightly in 2012 to 3,328. However, the number of people injured in these crashes increased during that same time period, from 387,000 in 2011 to 421,000 in 2012.
- For drivers involved in fatal crashes who are under the age of 20, about 10 percent are reported as being distracted. The actual number may be much higher. About 27 percent of fatal distracted driving crashes involved drivers in their 20s.
While Distraction.gov focuses on cell phone use, particularly texting, the same dangers can be applied to eating or drinking while driving. Anything that causes distraction is a potential danger and should be avoided.
What If I Am The Victim of Injuries Caused By A Distracted Driver?
If you have been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, there are several things you should do immediately after seeking medical attention.
First, document and preserve any evidence you have that the driver was distracted. You may not know if a driver was texting, drinking, eating or otherwise engaging in dangerous behavior but if you have any indication this was the case, be sure to write it down. This may involve taking the names of anyone who was a witness to the crash.
Next, you can also talk with police officers who investigate the scene. If you think you are dealing with a distracted driving situation, ask the police officers to investigate fully.
Finally, talk to a personal injury attorney. If you suspect that the driver was distracted, you may need help protecting your rights and recovering damages from the driver.