Is Eating While Driving Considered Distracted Driving?

by Staff | May 16th, 2022

Distracted driving is a leading cause of car crashes in the United States and in California. There are an average of almost 3,500 motor vehicle deaths in the Golden State every year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 15% of injuries and 9% of fatal crashes involved distracted driving in 2019.

If you’ve been involved in an auto accident affected by a distracted driver, reach out to the experienced California car accident lawyers at Berg Injury Lawyers. 

What Is Distracted Driving?

Phones are always at our sides in the smartphone era, even when driving. While smartphone use is a major concern for the NHTSA, it is not the only problem. Distracted driving is an umbrella term that involves more than just phone use.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes distracted driving as anything that may take a driver’s attention away from operating their vehicle. Distraction is broken into three categories:

  1. Visual: a distraction that takes your eyes away from the road.
  2. Manual: a distraction that requires you to remove your hands from the wheel.
  3. Cognitive: anything that takes your mind off operating the vehicle.

Eating and drinking are common types of distracted driving, as they fall under the three categories of distraction. It presents a severe risk for California drivers. Eating behind the wheel or any other distracted driving behavior can be considered negligence if it results in a car crash.

Distracted Driving Laws in California

While there are no laws that specifically state you can’t eat while driving in California, it may still result in punishment. If a highway patrol officer determines that someone is driving dangerously or out of control while eating, they could be pulled over and receive a ticket. However, if distracted driving is the primary cause of an accident, they can face harsher consequences.

Comparative negligence

California recognizes a tort rule for distributing damages after an auto accident involving two parties. Under pure comparative negligence laws, you can recover compensation for damages in an accident even if you were partially responsible. However, the compensation you’re entitled to depends on your degree of fault.

For example, a driver who is distracted while eating may run a red light and collide with your car in an intersection. If the accident happened when you were traveling over the posted speed limit, you could be found partially at fault for the crash. While the distracted driver is still mostly at fault and responsible for damages, you may not receive total compensation since you were speeding.

Comparative negligence is practiced by judges and juries in California courts and by insurance adjusters. In any car accident claim, the insurance company is likely to use its resources to determine liability. Many claims’ settlements are determined using comparative negligence.

Determining fault

Determining fault and proving negligence after a car accident can be challenging. In any auto accident claim, the plaintiff must prove that the at-fault driver breached their duty to operate their car safely and that their actions were the primary cause of the accident. They must also show that the accident directly caused monetary losses, such as injuries, medical expenses, and loss of income.

Our attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers rely on our legal experience to build well-founded auto accident cases. We gather all relevant information and conduct our own interviews and investigations to help give you the chance at recovering maximum compensation. We encourage all car accident clients to take the following steps if they’re involved in a crash:

  • Call the police and file an accident report
  • Schedule a medical appointment to professionally assess your injuries
  • Photograph and video the evidence
  • Don’t admit fault or apologize
  • Record the contact details for those involved (including witnesses), license plate numbers, and insurance details
  • Write a first-hand account of the incident
  • Schedule a case evaluation with Berg Injury Lawyers

California does not have a cap for economic or non-economic damages in an auto-insurance accident. However, if a driver does not have minimum insurance liability, they cannot recover non-economic damages, such as emotional distress.

Contact Berg Injury Lawyers After a Distracted Driving Accident

If you’re a victim of a distracted driver accident, avoid taking on the legal case alone. At Berg Injury Lawyers, our experienced team has successfully navigated car accident cases for over 40 years. Get in touch for a free, no-risk consultation to discuss your claim.