Can You Be Ticketed For Eating and Driving in Atlanta?

In January, a driver traveling through suburban Atlanta received a traffic ticket. While moving violations are common and tickets are given out every day, the reason for this citation was surprising enough to the driver that an article about the incident found its way into the New York Times. The reason for the ticket: the driver was eating a cheeseburger while operating his vehicle.  cheeseburger-with-fries-1426236-m

The law enforcement officer who issued the citation told the motorist that he couldn’t “just drive down the road eating a hamburger.”  While the motorist is planning on contesting the ticket because he believes that he does have the right to eat, the fact is that driving while behind the wheel has become a big issue. Eating and driving is a form of distracted driving that is difficult to regulate, but that is undeniably dangerous.

A driver who is focused on his food may not be paying sufficient attention to other cars and people around him. This can significantly increase the risk of a collision. If an eating and driving accident does occur, victims should consult with an Atlanta car accident lawyer for help taking legal action to recover compensation from the motorist who wasn’t paying attention.

Eating and Driving Increases Atlanta Collision Risks

Eating and driving may not get as much attention as cell phones and electronic devices when it comes to trying to address the problem of distracted driving, but studies show that it can be really dangerous to try to consume food behind the wheel.

As the New York Daily News Reports, around 80 percent of all motor vehicle crashes and around 65 percent of “near-miss” collisions involve drivers who are distracted by food rather than paying attention to what is going on around them.

Burgers, like the one the Atlanta driver was consuming when he got his ticket, are one of the worst foods to eat behind the wheel according to a survey of drivers. Other foods that are especially dangerous to consume while driving include:

  • Coffee, even with travel lids on cups
  • Soup
  • Tacos
  • Chili dogs
  • Ribs
  • Wings
  • Fried chicken
  • Jelly doughnuts
  • Soda
  • Chocolate

Despite the high risks that can be associated with eating and driving, this behavior is incredibly common. In fact, when ExxonMobile Corp. surveyed 1,000 drivers about their habits while driving, 83 percent said they drank beverages and 70 percent say that they consume food.

Regulating eating and driving can be a challenge, as drivers who receive citations under state distracted driving laws may contest their tickets like the Atlanta driver is planning to do. It is unclear whether state laws prohibiting reckless driving or distracted driving can be extended to effectively cover people who eat or drink while operating their cars.

Regardless of whether eating and driving is illegal, if a driver who is consuming food isn’t paying attention and causes a crash, victims injured in that collision should be able to recover compensation for losses as long as they can prove the other motorist behaved in an unsafe way. A car accident attorney can provide help making a case.

The Atlanta car accident lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. can represent you after an injury in a motor vehicle crash. Call today at (404) 814-8949 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.