is eating while driving dangerous with a picture of a someone driving with coffee in their hand

You may already know that texting behind the wheel is both dangerous and illegal. But did you know that eating while driving can be just as dangerous? Eating a snack while driving involves taking your hands off the steering wheel and your eyes off the road. Many motorists who would never send a text while driving think nothing of eating a snack behind the wheel. However, anything that takes the driver’s focus off of driving, increases the odds of a distracted driving accident. If you’ve been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, turn to a compassionate distracted driving accident lawyer with Joye Law Firm.

Since 1968, the attorneys at Joye Law Firm have advocated for the rights of accident victims across South Carolina. Our legal team has the experience and resources to take on the toughest distracted driving cases. We have five office locations across South Carolina located in Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Columbia, Clinton, and Summerville – to serve the residents across our state. Reach out to Joye Law Firm for a free case evaluation and to talk to a distracted driving accident attorney.

Eating While Driving Statistics: How Common Is It?

How risky it is to have a bite behind the wheel? Consider these alarming statistics before your next meal in the driver’s seat.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a recent year, over 3,100 people were killed, and another 424,000 people were injured in motor vehicle accidents across the U.S. involving a distracted driver. A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that distracted driving caused by eating can increase the risk of an accident by as much as 80 percent.

According to a study by The Zebra, 56% of Americans admit to eating while driving on a semi-regular basis with 7% snacking while driving daily. Although many people commonly associate distracted driving recklessness with younger drivers, their survey revealed that this is not always the case. Surprisingly, Baby Boomers emerged as the group most likely to eat while driving, with 13% of 55- to 64-year-olds admitting to doing so daily and 11% a few times a week. Conversely, younger drivers, who typically face higher car insurance rates, were found less likely to eat behind the wheel with 43% of Millennial and Gen Z drivers refraining from eating while driving altogether, while 31% do so only a few times a month to a few times a year.

Why Is Eating While Driving Dangerous?

Eating while driving increases the risk of a motor vehicle accident because:

  • Drivers who choose to eat while driving must look away from the road to access their food or drink. It may seem innocent enough to unwrap a burger or remove a straw from a wrapper but those seconds equate to traveling hundreds of feet of roadway where the driver is unaware of their surroundings.
  • Drivers need to take one or both hands off the wheel to eat, which impairs their ability to control their vehicle.
  • Drivers who eat while behind the wheel take their attention off the road, especially if they spill their food or drink.
  • Drivers who take their vision and focus off the road while eating will have delayed reactions to potential accident situations, such as a vehicle abruptly braking or suddenly pulling out in front of them.

Tips To Avoid Eating While Driving

Consider the following tips to avoid the temptation to eat while driving:

  • Eat before leaving– If you usually eat while driving to work in the morning, consider getting up a little earlier to have breakfast at home.
  • Eat in the parking lot– If you visit a drive-through restaurant, stop in the parking lot to eat rather than consume food while driving.
  • Keep food out of the car– Consider imposing a no-food rule for your car. Having a no-food-in-the-car rule will also keep your vehicle cleaner!
  • Choose easy-to-access drink containers– Keeping a drink with you while you drive is perfectly okay, especially on long road trips. However, you should select drink containers that are easier to pick up and hold, which can reduce the risk of an accidental spill. You should also be able to open a drink container with only one hand so that you do not need to take both hands off the wheel.

10 Worst Foods To Eat While Driving

Eating anything behind the wheel is potentially dangerous. But some food items are worse than others. Ten of the most distracting foods and beverages to consume while driving include:

  1. Coffee –One of the most common to-go drinks is also a common cause of distraction. Hot coffee can burn your mouth or hands, leading to distraction while driving. Even a small fender bender can lead to thousands of dollars in damage, making that quick caffeine pick-me-up, an expensive mistake.
  2. Soups – While soup may be good for the soul, trying to drive while eating soup, or worse spilling hot soup onto your lap while driving, is not. While some soup makers have created portable sippy containers, these can still lead to dangerous spills or burns.
  3. Tacos – Tacos are already challenging to eat without driving. Attempting to consume them while driving can create an even bigger mess and result in accidents.
  4. Chili – Similar, to hot soup, spilled chili can be a painful distraction, as hot chili spilled on your clothes, hands, or car, can lead to accidents.
  5. Burgers – with their various components, like condiments, cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, and pickles, can easily slide out of the bun and create a mess in your car.
  6. Barbeque – Whether you enjoy vinegar, mustard, or tomato-based bbq, dripping bbq sauce while driving is a recipe for disaster. Bbq is best served seated at a table rather than behind the wheel of a car.
  7. Fried chicken – Fried chicken’s greasiness often results in drivers cleaning their fingers or trying to wipe off grease from the steering wheel, causing distractions.
  8. Powdered or filled donuts – Donuts, especially jelly, cream-filled, or powdered ones, can lead to messy consequences. Exercising willpower and resisting the Krispy Kreme drive-thru on a road trip is a wise choice.
  9. Soda ­– Soda poses a risk due to it’s sticky nature. Opening a can or bottle that may have been shaken during transit could cause a geyser of sticky liquid to spray and distract a driver. Opening and inserting a straw in a fountain drink also causes drivers to take their attention off the road.
  10. Chocolate – Rounding out the list is chocolate, as chocolate interacts with the heat from our hands it melts, creating stains and fingerprints that might be tempting to clean while driving.

Greasy, sticky, and sloppy foods present unique distraction risks, and the cost of a distracted driving accident is not worth satiating that hunger.

Is It Illegal To Eat While Driving in South Carolina?

Eating while driving is technically legal in South Carolina, but it still poses an unnecessary risk. Eating while driving can be as dangerous as any kind of distracted driving behavior, such as adjusting the radio or climate control, reaching for an object, or using a cell phone. You should always avoid any activity that takes your hands off the wheel, your eyes off the road, or your attention off the task of driving.

Although eating while driving is not illegal in South Carolina, it can lead to behaviors that are potentially against the law. For example, a distracted driver is more likely to speed, make improper lane changes, and run red lights and stop signs.

Call Our Distracted Driving Accident Lawyers

Have you been injured in a crash caused by a distracted driver? You may have a right to seek compensation for your medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and more. Contact Joye Law Firm today for a free, no-obligation consultation with our South Carolina personal injury lawyers to learn more about your options for pursuing compensation. Give us a call at 888-324-3100 or fill out our contact form.

About the Author

William Asche is an attorney with the Joye Law Firm. He represents clients in a wide variety of personal injury and workers’ compensation cases.  Known for his attention to detail and innovative legal approaches, William has been called upon by attorneys from across the country for legal advice on maximizing their clients’ recoveries.

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