Have you heard the buzz? Grabbing a fry from your to-go bag may be illegal! Georgia has taken a very proactive approach to decreasing the number of accidents and deaths on the road. Their biggest hurdle is distracted driving.
An Atlanta car wreck attorney is probably very familiar with distracted driving but is eating behind the wheel too far?
Distracted driving includes things such as drinking or being under the influence and talking on your phone. Texting is the most frequent form of distracted driving with chatty passengers, and the radio being close runners-up.
Georgia Law on Distracted Driving
Since 2014 Georgia has relied on one law in particular and updated it many times since. Georgia Code Section 40-6-241 states, “… shall not engage in any actions which shall distract such driver…” This section could be applied to anything, including eating.
Distracted driving is a serious issue and should be weighed carefully. But does this law undermine the seriousness of what havoc distracted driving can produce? Many attorneys think so. The common argument in cases which involve eating is that many people who eat behind the wheel don’t exhibit any symptoms of distraction.
However, there is another turn on the issue. What about the people reaching for more than just a fry from a to-go bag? No doubt you’ve seen people applying makeup or eating with a bowl and spoon. Georgia crafted this law with the intent of making its application as flexible as possible.
Did a distracted or eating driver hit you? If so, then you may have a claim to their fault or negligence because of this very broad and fluid law.
The Honest Impact of Eating While Driving
It’s easy to argue that taking a drink of coffee is not the same as texting. However, distracted drivers make up for a substantial amount of crashes in Georgia. It is possible that a hamburger is responsible for many auto accidents.
When you consider the other factors at play, it’s clear that taking a quick bite or sip may not be as friendly or safe as it seems. When traveling through the freeways near Atlanta, drivers move at speeds of 60 MPH or more. Would you eat a burger while moving more than 90 feet per second? In any other scenario, this situation seems ridiculous.
In 2017 distracted driving directly resulted in 3,166 deaths. While texting is the primary focus behind distracted driving, eating is an equally contributing factor. So, if police officers are writing tickets for eating behind the wheel, why are drive-thrus still available?
It’s not too much to expect drivers to make careful decisions and practice moderation. Honestly, eating behind the wheel is something that many people need to accept is dangerous. The difference between reading something on your phone and biting down on a sandwich is not so substantial.
Eating when driving manually, visually, and mentally detracts from the attention which needs to be on the road. Visually a driver’s eyes move away from the road to complete another task. A driver could be fighting with a wrapper while they smash into the car in front of them.
When it comes to the other aspects of distraction, a driver’s hands or at least one of them is removed from the wheel. Then you consider that the focus has moved from driving to another task. The combination of all these distractions together makes the task unacceptable when driving.
Foods You Should Never Eat While Driving
Any food consumed behind the wheel poses a risk. The level of danger is increased or decreased by different factors. These include the type of food, how it’s packaged, and where you’re eating it.
Let’s consider some of the most dangerous foods to eat behind the wheel:
- Coffee: Reaching for a coffee cup or taking sips while driving is a huge distraction. The coffee cup becomes a third hand that needs to be monitored while also paying attention to the road.
- Tacos: Who doesn’t love tacos? They’re delicious, but not when you’re driving. The contents of a taco can easily fall out and become a huge mess. Then you must take your eyes off the road to find a place to pull over and clean up.
- Carbonated Beverages: Unscrewing the top of a canned or bottled soda is a two-handed task. Both hands are removed from the steering wheel, creating a hazardous situation.
- Chicken Wings: Eating chicken wings is a Three-Act play. There’s the process of removing the meat from the bone, dipping it in sauce, and finally putting it in your mouth.
- Powdered Donuts: Powder sugar can easily get everywhere, including your eyes. This creates a hazardous driving situation where you cannot see.
While the list above is not exhaustive, it does give you an idea of some of the more dangerous foods to eat while driving. If you must eat while behind the steering wheel, do so at a red light or traffic stop or pull up somewhere safe, like a rest stop. It’s not worth the risk and legal costs to eat while driving.
Georgia’s Hands-Free Act
In 2018, Georgia passed a hands-free law to reduce distracted driving. The new driving law banned holding or supporting phones while operating a motor vehicle. This included making calls, texting, checking email, or using social media.
While drinking or eating is not explicitly mentioned in the law, Section 4 states, “A driver shall exercise due care in operating a motor vehicle on the highways of this state and shall not engage in any actions which shall distract such driver from the safe operation of such vehicle.”
Because of this, police officers have the right to ticket a driver for eating and driving if they feel it is a distraction.
What to Do If You’re a Victim of a Distracted Driver
- Call a police officer: If you’re the victim of a distracted driver, you should first call the police. Even if there is no damage to your vehicle, it’s important to make a report. This will help document the event in case the driver strikes someone else.
- Exchange information with the driver: Get their name, phone number, insurance company, and policy number. If there are witnesses, be sure to get their contact information.
- Seek medical attention: If you’re injured, it’s vital to seek medical attention immediately. Even without visible injuries, it’s always a good idea to get checked out by a doctor.
- Document everything: Keep a record of all medical bills, police reports, insurance claims, and anything related to the accident. This will be helpful if you need to take legal action against the driver.
What Types of Compensation Can You Receive?
If you’re the victim of distracted and reckless driving, you may be entitled to receive compensation for the following:
- Medical bills: Both current and future medical bills are covered, including hospitalization, surgery, rehabilitation, and any other treatment you may need.
- Lost wages: If you’re unable to work because of your injuries, you can receive compensation for your lost wages.
- Pain and suffering: You may be able to receive compensation for the physical pain and emotional suffering you’ve endured, such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
Contact A Car Wreck Attorney in Atlanta
Proving that someone was on the phone is one thing. But to prove that your crash happened because someone was eating is a little different. You’ll likely need to contact the police at the time of the crash to start the process of proving the driver was distracted.
If police aren’t able to respond to the scene because injuries aren’t severe enough, inform them that you want your suspicions recorded. By filing a formal police report which documents your suspicions of their distraction, you can use that in your claim. A police report won’t stand on its own as proof though. You will need to rely on a car wreck attorney to decide if and how you can prove the other driver was distracted and negligent.
Contact us for help with your case now. There are very few things in life more stressful than trying to make your way through a car crash claim. If the claim is difficult to prove or the fault is murky, then you will definitely need assistance.