You’re driving home from a long day at work and are starving from that light and unsatisfactory salad you had for lunch. The McDonald’s you just picked up is sitting on the chair beside you, tempting you with it’s tantalizing smell. You can just imagine those french fries, so salty and delicious, and your mouth waters. One fry wouldn’t really be an issue, would it? You reach for a fry, and realize that you can’t just eat the fry by its lonesome. You need that ketchup. So you reach into the bag, glancing between it and the road as you paw around for a packet of ketchup. After finding it, you carefully balance the fry in your hand, tear open the packet of ketchup, and slowly spread it along the french fry. You finally eat it, and your eyes close as you savor the salty treat, your taste buds dancing with delight. You open your eyes again, debating whether to grab another fry or not, when you notice that your car is heading straight into the ditch on the side of the road. You're about to get into a car accident. Oops!
Eating on the go is a common occurrence. People late to work in the morning, people who work late and pick up food on the way home, and people snacking on long drives and road trips, all eat while driving. However, eating while driving is a form of distracted driving that may lead to dangerous distracted driving car crashes.
Distracted driving is anything that distracts people from keeping their full attention on the road when driving. While most people associate distracted driving with texting or making a phone call while driving, eating is also a habit that causes people to take their eyes off the road, and therefore can cause distracted driving car accidents. Many people don’t comprehend how these distracted driving activities, which nearly everyone has done at least once in their lives, could be dangerous, since they overestimate their alertness and think they’ll be safe, “just this once.” It may seem silly, but even something as small as eating a single fry could cause a distracted driving car crash.
In fact, the Auto Alliance Driving Innovation’s public service campaign, which works to eliminate distracted driving, Decide To Drive, states that eating while driving is one of the most common forms of distracted driving. After all, the modern world is full of food designed to eat while driving. Just take a look at Go-Gurt, a cup of yogurt repackaged in an easy to hold and slurp tube, or the entire marketing ploy behind KFC’s Go Cup being that it fits in the cup holder, making it perfect to eat fried chicken while driving. So, why isn’t eating and driving a more pressing issue when discussing distracted driving? According to Decide To Drive, “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that eating and driving increases the likelihood of crashes by 80 percent. Additionally, 65 percent of near-miss crashes are caused by distracted drivers who are eating or drinking while driving.” And since 40,100 distracted driving deaths occurred in 2017, according to The National Safety Council (NSC), it’s safe to assume that a good number of these distracted driving fatalities were due to eating while driving. That is a large number of deaths for something that could have been prevented by paying a little more attention to the road. If waiting to get home to eat those McDonald's french fries is too taxing, people should consider parking and eating them in the McDonald’s parking lot!
This is why April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Hopefully, by bringing awareness to how dangerous distracted driving is, like eating and driving, fewer people will get into distracted driving car accidents in the future.
Distracted driving, whether it is by eating food, texting, or blaring the radio, can be a dangerous activity and may result in a distracted driving car accident. Make a positive change for Distracted Driving Awareness Month by reconsidering eating that 5-layer Beef Burrito you just picked up from Taco Bell’s drive thru while driving. Instead, perhaps wait until your arrival home or even dine. Stay safe and avoid distracted driving. If you or anyone you know has been the victim of a distracted driving car crash, contact The Michigan Law Firm, PC at 844.4MI.FIRM, for a free legal consultation.