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Accidents caused by eating while behind the wheel

Distracted driving laws in Kentucky and around the country generally aim to discourage motorists from using their cellphones while behind the wheel, but there are many other things that can prevent drivers from focusing on the road ahead. Fast-food restaurants featuring welcoming drive-thru windows are a ubiquitous sight in virtually every part of the United States, and they market themselves as inexpensive and convenient dining options for drivers in a hurry.

The food in these establishments is often criticized for its nutritional deficiencies and the effect that it is having on the nation's waistlines and cholesterol levels, but it can also contribute to catastrophic car accidents. Drive-thru meals are especially popular among highway drivers who do not want to waste time looking for local eateries, and many of these motorists choose to consume their food while on the go. This can be dangerous because vehicles traveling at highway speeds cover about 100 yards in only five seconds, and collisions that take place at these speeds often result in death or serious injury.

Before cellphone use by motorists became commonplace, eating while driving was considered to be the leading cause of distracted driving accidents. Eating or drinking was linked to 80 percent of all motor vehicle accidents and 65 percent of close calls in a 2009 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study, and drinking coffee was found to be the most dangerous distraction of all.

Distracted drivers are often ticketed for motor vehicle infractions and can face serious criminal charges when they cause injuries or significant property damage, and these records may be used by experienced attorneys to establish liability in car accident lawsuits. Attorneys could study police reports for evidence of distraction as first responders often record their opinions and observations in official documents.

Source: The New York Daily News, "Eating while driving causes 80% of all car accidents, study shows", Jamie Locher and Owen Moritz, July 19, 2009

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