As Americans get increasingly overscheduled, it's not unusual to drink our coffee on the way to work or stop at a drive-thru for lunch on the way back to the office after running errands. While there aren't specific laws against eating or drinking non-alcoholic beverages while driving, these activities can be dangerous.
Nonetheless, the majority of drivers engage in them at some point. A study by Exxon Mobil found that 83 percent of drivers drink beverages while behind the wheel and 70 percent consume food.
Think about the distractions you have while consuming a beverage, snack or meal while driving. Often, you must unwrap the food. Then, you're using one hand to hold your beverage or food, which takes it off the wheel. Of course, if you spill something on yourself, that's another distraction. If you spill a hot drink like coffee, that can be extremely dangerous (not to mention the cause of serious burns).
If you still doubt that eating and drinking while behind the wheel is hazardous, here are a couple of findings to consider. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the chances of a crash increase by 80 percent when someone is eating and driving. Another study found that drivers who are eating or drinking have a 3.6 times greater chance of being involved in a crash than those who aren't.
If you're riding with a driver who insists on eating or drinking, politely but firmly suggest that he or she wait until you've reached your destination before partaking. At the least, ask that they pull over for a few minutes if the driver must eat immediately.
If you're injured by a driver who's distracted by eating or drinking, it may be wise to seek legal guidance to find out what your options are for compensation to cover your medical care and other costs resulting from the accident.
Source: Decide to Drive, "Eating While Driving," accessed Feb. 17, 2017