According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 391,000 individuals were injured in car accidents caused by distracted drivers during 2015. In 2016, over 3,450 people lost their lives in automobile accidents caused by drivers who are distracted behind the wheel.
Although cellular phones are a leading culprit of distracted driving car accidents, one of the most common reasons individuals become distracted behind the wheel is because they are eating or drinking. Engaging in these activities while driving is a significant contributing factor to car accidents across the United States as well as here in Utah.
Attorneys at Siegfried & Jensen would like you to consider the hazards of eating while behind the wheel, which is why we offer some tips on ways you can eat and drink safely while operating a vehicle.
The Dangers Of Having Your Hands Off The Wheel
One of the leading problems with driving and eating is that individuals who engage in these tasks simultaneously are unable to keep both hands on the wheel while driving. Driving without your hands on the wheels lessens the amount of control you have over the vehicle.
For many of the same reasons, drinking beverages while driving can be dangerous for yourself and others on the roadways. Food and drinks are both major distractions for drivers charged with controlling their vehicles. Unscrewing a cap from a bottle forces a driver to take their hands off the wheel, which can lead to an accident. Drivers who tip cups or bottles back to get a drink obscure their view, which can cause them to rear-end other vehicles on the roadways.
Problems Associated With Reaching For Food And Drinks While Driving
Quite often, individuals who are driving and eating will have to grab their food. Maybe they dropped a piece of lettuce from their burger, or they need to shake their drink to get the ice loose enough to let some liquid through. Either way, drivers engaging in these activities often take their eyes off the road ahead of them. Even a split second can be long enough to cause a major collision. When food and drinks are in the back seat, individuals may lunge back to reach for an item and unintentionally press on the gas pedal – causing their vehicles to speed ahead into others on the roadways. All of these sources of distraction can be deadly for those in control of motor vehicles.
How To Eat And Drink Behind The Wheel Responsibly
If you are driving for an extended period, you may be enticed to eat or drink while in control of your vehicle. When done responsibly, this is an activity that drivers are able to complete with minimal risks. It is imperative for drivers to know safe practices for eating and drinking while driving.
First, it is imperative to make sure that you have food and drinks near you. This makes it a lot easier for you to access. Having items close to you ensures you are able to reach for the items easily without taking your eyes off the road. Furthermore, it is more beneficial for someone to hand you items if you are riding along with others. This practice ensures you are able to manage the road effectively.
Make sure that packages are open before you head out on the road. This prevents you from having to struggle to open items while in control of the vehicle. It is more beneficial for drivers to eat small and simple snacks while driving. Taking a hand full of Chex Mix or another small snack allows you to keep your hands on the wheel rather than holding larger food items.
Use easy-to-access cup holders for drinks. There are some cup holders that clip right on to doors. These can be extremely beneficial for drivers as they do not have to reach and strain for their drinks. Using strays or leaving caps loose can make it a lot easier to drink as well.
If you are going to eat a meal, like breakfast, lunch, or dinner, find a place where you can park and safely do so. Eating an entire meal while behind the wheel is not something we recommend you do.
Stop Signs And Red Lights Do Not Provide Enough Time To Eat
Quite often, drivers on the roadways believe they have enough time to eat meals at red lights or stop signs. What happens in these instances, is drivers will become distracted while eating at the red light and they will not notice when the lights change. This can cause a major delay for others on the roadways. In some instances, drivers may think that the light changed and they will start to pull into the intersection without looking. This can lead to very dangerous situations.
Who Is Liable In Car Accidents Where Drivers Are Eating Or Drinking?
The fault of an automobile accident isn’t generally automatically assumed to be the person driving. Rather, evidence of the case and crash will often uncover critical details that highlight what ultimately led to the accident. Unfortunately, drivers who are distracted or preoccupied while behind the wheel are often found liable for any crashes that occur. If you or a loved one is injured in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, it is imperative to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
A Utah Car Accident Attorney Can Help You
If you are ever injured in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, it is imperative to contact a personal injury attorney from Siegfried & Jensen as soon as possible. For over 30-years, our experienced attorneys have helped over 35,000 accident victims collect over $850 million in compensation for their injuries.
Victims who hire our law firm to help with their case can rest assured knowing their best interest is protected while they focus on their recovery. If you were injured by a distracted driver in Utah, contact our law firm at (801) 845-9000 to schedule a free case evaluation as soon as possible.