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Is It Illegal to Eat While Driving?

Published on Apr 25, 2019 at 6:43 am in Car Accidents.
Is It Illegal to Eat While Driving?

With busy schedules, it sometimes seems like there’s no time to take a break to stop and eat throughout the day. In order to avoid being late or missing an important meeting, some people choose to eat meals while driving. Fast food restaurants and their drive-thrus make this easy to do. But many people don’t realize how dangerous it can be to eat behind the wheel.

When a person is driving, they need to be entirely focused on the road and the other vehicles around them. Reaching down for a snack or beverage every once in a while may not seem like a big deal, but it takes a person’s hands, eyes, and mind away from the road. In a split second an accident could occur, and innocent travelers could be seriously injured. Depending on the food or drink, there may be even more risks involved. While it’s clear that eating while driving is a dangerous activity, it’s important to be aware of whether it’s illegal in your state.

Is It Illegal to Eat and Drive in Mississippi?

While there are laws prohibiting drinking and driving and texting and driving, there is no official eating and driving law in Mississippi. You can, however, still be pulled over for eating if a law enforcement officer believes you are distracted. If you are exhibiting reckless driving behaviors while you’re munching on your favorite snack, you could be pulled over and asked about your driving. If the police officer decides you were negligent behind the wheel, you could be ticketed and fined. So while you won’t be charged with eating while driving, you could be charged with careless driving.

The primary task for any driver is to focus on the road, be aware of the vehicles around them, and operate their car in a safe manner. Secondary tasks detract from the primary task. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), eating is considered a secondary task. The odds of getting into an accident while eating is 1.57 in 100.

The Dangers of Eating While Driving

There are a number of ways that eating and driving at the same time can lead to trouble. Spills are a major contributing factor to distractions. If a driver spills food on themselves, it’s likely they’ll look away from the road and try to collect napkins to contain the damage. Burns are also a concern when a hot beverage it spilled. A scald can cause immense pain, leading a driver to completely ignore the road ahead of them.

In addition to spills and burns, slips are also an issue. When greasy or sticky food makes a driver’s hands and their steering wheel slick, they may not have a good drip. Controlling a vehicle around a sharp curve could be more challenging.

Wrappers can also cause issues for drivers. If a driver is busy fussing with the wrapper on a fast food order or on a piece of candy, they are not focused on the road. If a person gets to the point where they are actually eating while driving, they may be so preoccupied with their meal that they don’t pay attention to the others around them.

The Most Dangerous Foods to Eat Behind the Wheel

Not all foods are equally dangerous. The NHTSA analyzed accidents caused by distracted drivers and determined which foods are the most problematic behind the wheel.

  • Coffee. While coffee is one of the most common things people consume while driving, it’s the most dangerous. Hot coffee is especially dangerous if it spills.
  • Chocolate. Because of the point at which chocolate melts, you may be compelled to clean your hands or the steering wheel while driving.
  • Soft Drinks. All beverages are subject to spilling, but the carbonation in soda can cause issues if a person starts to cough or sneeze.
  • Jelly or Cream-Filled Doughnuts. Filled donuts are more likely to cause a mess that a driver might have the urge to clean up. This is especially true if they’re eating the doughnut for breakfast and stain their work clothes.
  • Fried Chicken. Like chocolate, fried chicken can leave drivers with greasy hands. It’s also difficult to eat something like fried chicken with one hand.
  • Barbecue. Foods with barbecue sauce on them can make a mess and leave the steering wheel sticky.
  • Hamburgers. When a hamburger is stacked with lettuce, tomato, ketchup, and other toppings, it’s possible for a driver’s clothes to get stained and for condiments to get all over the inside of the car. Like fried chicken, it’s difficult to eat a hamburger with one hand.
  • Chili. This thick sauce with meat causes accidents because of the potential for it to drip.
  • Tacos. Tacos can easily disassemble. When this happens, a driver might want to clean up the toppings and risk looking away from the road.
  • Hot Soups. Like chili, soups can be messy. Even if a driver tries to drink their soup, the temperature could burn their mouth and cause them to swerve.

If you’ve been in a car accident because of a negligent driver’s decisions, you may have grounds to file a personal injury claim. Doing so, with the right lawyer, can put you on the path to receiving compensation to pay for the losses you incurred as a result of the crash. We understand that people lead busy lives and often feel the need to complete multiple tasks at once, but that’s never an excuse to endanger the lives of others. To learn more about the possibility of compensation, get in touch with our law firm today.

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