chicago personal injury lawyers

Eating and Driving A Danger for Chicago Motorists

February 27, 2015

Throughout Chicago, Hyde Park, Bridgeport, Edgewater, Lincoln Park and surrounding areas, many people know that they shouldn’t talk on their phone or text when driving (although people do it anyway). However, even motorists who recognize the dangers of electronic devices behind the wheel may engage in other distracting behaviors because they don’t think these actions are as big of a risk. A personal injury lawyer knows that anything taking your focus off the road is bad news because your crash risk may rise significantly. This includes one of the most basic tasks of all: eating.

Is Eating and Driving a Form of Distracted Driving?

One driver found out firsthand that eating and driving can be considered a form of distracted driving. This motorist received a traffic citation for driving while consuming a burger. According to the New York Times, the driver planned to contest the ticket. The driver was told multiple times by the law enforcement officer that he could not just drive down the street eating a burger, which was why the citation was given.

The problem is, in many cases, drivers can actually just drive down the street consuming a hamburger or a cheeseburger because there are no specific laws to stop them from doing so. Passing laws banning eating in the car would likely be much more complicated and more controversial than cell phone bans. This is because the majority of drivers do eat behind the wheel.

As the New York Daily News reports, around 70 percent of 1,000 drivers responding to an ExxonMobile Corp. survey said that they consumed food while they were operating their cars. A full 83 percent of the respondents to that survey said that they consumed beverages while driving.

With so many people eating, it is not surprising that an estimated 80 percent of all motor vehicle accidents in this country involve drivers who are eating, nor is it surprising that around 65 percent of near-miss crashes involve eating drivers.

Drivers ranked the foods that are most difficult for motorists to eat on the road. The highest risks foods included:

  • Coffee, even if the coffee cup had a travel lid
  • Soups
  • Chili dogs
  • Tacos
  • Wings, ribs or fried chicken
  • Chocolate
  • Soda
  • Donuts with jelly centers

Eating causes you to take your hands off the wheel to hold the food or beverage that you are consuming. You may need to take your eyes off the road in order to see what you are eating. As you devote brain power to eating the food without spilling, you have less attention to pay to the road and the cognitive distraction can result in delayed reaction time and impaired judgment. If you spill, you could also experience burns or the feel of very cold liquid, which could cause you to slam the gas, slam the brakes, veer out of your lane or do other dangerous behaviors. These are very significant risks and you should not take the chance of eating and driving.

A Chicago, IL accident attorney can help after an injury. Call Coplan + Crane at 800-394-6002 to schedule your free consultation. Serving Chicago, Hyde Park, Bridgeport, Edgewater, Lincoln Park and surrounding areas.