By now, virtually all California drivers must know that it is against to law to drive while using the telephone unless the device is hands-free – but have you wondered how this requirement of “hands-free” relates to eating while driving? Obviously it takes at least one hand to lift a food item or beverage to your mouth. Certain behind-the-wheel meals are almost guaranteed to lead to “distracted driving”. While it may be easy to keep one’s attention on the road while eating french fries, for example, the same is not usually true for burritos, soup, salad and corn on the cob (yes, I have seen a driver eating corn on the cob on the freeway). Add to the equation the likelihood of a spill while traveling at high speeds and the instincts to first try and stop the spill and then try to clean up the spill, you have a potentially very dangerous distraction.
In fact, some studies have shown that eating while driving can increase the likelihood of a motor vehicle accident by up to 80%. Despite the danger, many commuters use their moving vehicles as mobile dining rooms.
While highway patrol officers would put eating while driving under the subheading of “Distracted Driving”, it is not technically illegal in California. However, if you cause a collision while eating behind the wheel, and the investigating officer finds a half-eaten hamburger in your lap, it may lead to being additionally cited for distracted driving, which can carry a monetary fine.
If you or someone you love has been in a car accident, call me now at (916) 921-6400. If you are outside the Sacramento area, you can call us at (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly advice.