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Should California Ban Eating Behind the Wheel?

Cell phones aren’t the only distractions that pose serious risks to drivers. Studies show that any behavior that takes a driver’s attention away from the roadway can increase the risk of a serious crash.

Eating and drinking while driving can be particularly dangerous because it involves cognitive, visual, and manual distractions. For instance, drivers may take their eyes off the road to locate the snack and then remove their hands from the wheel to open it. Figuring out how to deal with a spill can take drivers’ focus away from driving.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that eating and driving increases the likelihood of crashes by 80 percent. Yet most drivers do not appreciate the risks. An Exxon Mobil survey of 1,000 drivers revealed that 70 percent of

drivers eat while driving and 83 percent drink beverages when they are on the road.

To reduce distracted driving crashes, the State of New Jersey is currently considering a law that would ban "any activity unrelated to the actual operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that interferes with the safe operation of the vehicle on a public road or highway." While the law does not expressly target eating and drinking, the activities would be banned for drivers.

Violations of the law would result in a $200-$400 fine for the first offense, $400-$600 for a second offense, and $600-$800 for a third or subsequent offense. A third or subsequent violation could result in a driver’s license suspension of up to 90 days and a motor vehicle points penalty.

"The issue is that we need to try, in every way, to discourage distracted driving, it's dangerous," Assemblyman John Wisniewski, who sponsored the bill, stated. "Education and enforcement can change the attitudes of people."

If you or someone you care about has suffered serious injury in a car accident, don’t hesitate to contact a San Diego injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation. After a serious California crash, we can advocate on your behalf to help hold the negligent parties accountable for their actions and seek the compensation you deserve.