Distracted driving isn’t just fiddling with the radio. More than 3,100 Americans were killed due to distracted drivers in 2020 alone.
Most people assume that these accidents had to do with cell phones. Many of them did.
But thousands of distracted driving accidents occur every year because the driver is eating while they are driving. If you eat while driving, you need to know about the dangers that simple action can cause.
Is it illegal to eat while driving? Can eating in your car affect your odds of winning a civil case? What should you do to stay safe while driving on Florida roads?
Answer these questions and you can become a smart and focused driver in no time. Here is your quick guide.
Florida Traffic Laws
There is no law specifically against eating while driving. Distracted driving laws apply to driving with an electronic device or cell phone in your car, not food or drinks.
However, other traffic laws may impact you. Section 316.1925 of the Florida Statutes applies to careless driving. Any person who operates a car in a way that endangers someone else’s life and property can be cited for a moving violation. If your food distracts you and causes you to speed or swerve, you may receive a careless driving citation.
Section 316.192 applies to reckless driving. This occurs when a driver operates their vehicle with “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.”
If you take your hands off the wheel to hold your food or if you look away from the road, you may crash your car and receive a reckless driving charge. A first-time conviction of reckless driving can lead to a prison sentence of up to 90 days, even if you don’t hurt anyone.
Florida is a comparative negligence state. This means that someone can claim damages from you based on how much responsibility you bear for the accident. Even if the other driver was mostly at fault, they can receive some money from you.
The plaintiff can build a strong auto accident case against you using surveillance footage and eyewitnesses. They can show you were looking at your food or had your hand off the wheel when the accident happened. This may be enough evidence to establish fault.
The worse the car accident is, the more money you may need to pay. Juries can give money to plaintiffs based on their pain and suffering.
They can also assign damages based on lost income, mental health problems, and vehicle damage. Damages can total thousands of dollars, even if the collision was a complete accident.
Insurance companies will also look at your degree of fault in an accident. If they find out you were eating while driving, they can deny you a claim for compensation, forcing you to pay out of pocket.
Tips to Avoid Problems
You should avoid all types of distracted driving, including eating while driving. The key to being an attentive driver is to eliminate all sources of distractions. You should follow several steps simultaneously so there is no chance that food distracts you.
Pull Over to Eat
When you need to eat, you should pull your car over. Park in a parking lot or in a roadside parking spot and eat there.
Turn your vehicle off so there is no chance of your car moving while you are eating. You can step outside your car or remain inside to eat, though you may want to sit in the passenger seat so a police officer doesn’t think you are idling.
You should also pull over to have a beverage, as drinks can be as distracting as food. Never drink alcohol inside your car, even if the car is off and you are not driving. Carrying an open container of alcohol in your car is a criminal offense in Florida.
Do Not Keep Food in Your Car
You are more likely to eat while driving when there is food in your car. While you are driving in Florida, you should keep food out of arm’s reach. Do not put any snacks in your glove box, side compartments, or cup holders.
If you are bringing home groceries, you should put them in the back seat or trunk instead of in the passenger seat. Store your items in coolers so they are harder to access.
Do Not Drive While You Are Hungry
Though you should not drive while you are eating, you should also not drive while you are hungry. Hunger can be as distracting as food, and significant hunger can cause lightheadedness and drowsiness.
Eat a big meal before you start driving. Try to eat foods that are high in protein and whole grains, as they burn slowly and keep you full for a long period of time.
Nut and fruit mixes offer protein with healthy sugars that create energy for hours. You can also eat a meat sandwich with whole wheat bread.
Can You Eat While Driving?
You take a big risk when you eat while driving. There is no law against it.
But food can take your eyes off the road, leading to a careless driving or reckless driving charge. Food can increase your fault percentage for the accident, driving up how much money you need to pay in a civil case. Always pull over to eat or drink, and eat something before you get behind the wheel.
If you get into an accident, you need a smart lawyer to avoid damages and charges. RHINO Lawyers serves Florida residents. Contact us today.
CONTACT A TAMPA AUTO ACCIDENT ATTORNEY
In short, after a car accident, you may not know your rights. Above all, don’t struggle through the process alone. Actually, our personal injury team is here to help you with any legal needs you might have regarding your accident.
Lastly, let RHINO Lawyers answer your questions and review the facts of your case with a Free Consultation. So, get started by completing the “Free Instant Case Evaluation” or by calling us any time, day or night, at 844.RHINO.77.