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Car Accident Liability for Eating While Driving

By George Khoury, Esq. | Last updated on

Since the majority of us no-time-for-breakfast commuters will never have the pleasure of eating a full gourmet meal while being chauffeured around in the back of a Rolls Royce, for food to qualify for breakfast, it must be edible with one hand.

Distracted driving has been a problem ever since people started driving. However, the popularity of smart phones has actually forced state lawmakers to deal with the dangers of distracted driving head on. While no state explicitly bans eating while driving, nearly every state has some form of general distracted driving law that can likely be applied to the dangerous practice. Like texting, eating while driving can result in serious accidents.

Chew on Some Perspective

If you're thinking, "I'll stop eating while driving when they pull the burger out of my cold, dead hands," you may want to reconsider. Even slight distractions that take your attention away for just a few seconds can result in devastating crashes. At 55 mph, a car will travel the length of a football field in 5 seconds, and it takes that long to read a few word long text message, and even longer to reply.

While many people believe they can take a bite of food or drink some coffee without being distracted, the truth is that every second matters when you're speeding down the freeway. Depending on the flow of traffic, drinking or eating anything could be considered distracted driving. Video of this bus driver from Albuquerque, New Mexico provides an excellent example of just why eating and driving is so dangerous. As the driver puts down his burrito, he fails to notice the cars stopping in front of him and ends up causing a multi-car collision.

Liability for Eating and Driving Accidents

Typically, if a driver that caused an accident was found to be texting, using their smart phone, or eating at the time of the crash, liability will likely be easier to prove against them. Because auto accident liability is generally based upon the legal theory of negligence, distracted driving laws can help provide the basis for a negligence claim.

Also, if there is a dispute as to who is at fault, the distracted driver is likely to get the blame, or have an eventual recovery reduced for comparative negligence, if there are facts showing they were distracted.

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