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Dining and driving: A deadly distraction

On Behalf of | Sep 25, 2020 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

So much traffic and so little time.


While the list of driving distractions continues to grow, certain activities predate the electronic device revolution: eating and drinking while behind the wheel. Drivers tend to see these activities as time saving examples of multi-tasking, but they must be seen for what they are: distractions that add an element of danger to a commute.


In a recent survey, it was found that more than 150,000 people in Los Angeles County are forced to complete a daily “super commute.” A super commute requires drivers to spend at least three hours in the car getting to and from work each day. Is it any wonder that drivers don’t attempt to fill that time with other tasks such as phone calls, email, personal grooming and meals? Unfortunately, visual, manual and cognitive distractions can increase your chances of being in a vehicle collision.


While many statutes specifically call out cell phone use, other traffic laws are a bit more nebulous. Across the United States, drivers might receive citations for speeding, reckless driving, inattentive driving or distracted driving. Stated one law enforcement officer with the California Highway Patrol: “We don’t have a specific section, but for somebody that is eating while driving, now we can go with the unsafe speed section. What is the safe speed for you to eat and drive? The safe speed is zero.”


Unfortunately, even with the legal ramifications, drivers will continue to be distracted. People might argue that taking a sip of their morning coffee while driving does not constitute a distraction. As a perfect scenario, that is potentially correct. But what if there are certain factors that complicate the activity? What happens when the driver reaches the end of his or her travel mug and must tip it up to take a drink, obscuring their view of the road? What happens if the drink spills? The natural reaction is to look down and quickly clean the mess. In a perfect world, a driver would not be distracted by these simple acts, but a commute is hardly ever perfect.


Distracted drivers can cause devastating accidents and catastrophic injuries. Even a low-speed collision can lead to spinal cord damage and brain trauma. If you were injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, it is wise to discuss your case with an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney.