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4 eating and driving statistics you must know

The restaurant business, at least when it comes to fast food, seems specifically created to cater to eating and driving. Yes, technically speaking, you can hit the drive-thru and then go home to eat. But how many times do you simply want to eat while you drive?

Maybe you're running late for work in Little Rock and you need that precious morning cup of coffee. Maybe you're heading back home after a long day at the office and you can't sit through the entire 60-minute commute without something to eat. Aren't these situations exactly what the drive-thru is for?

Before you grab that next meal and eat while you drive, consider these statistics:

1. 83 percent of drivers drink in the car, and 70 percent eat some type of food while driving.

It's important to start by realizing just how common this problem is. Those stats come from an ExxonMobil survey that included a total of 1,000 drivers. As you can see, the vast majority said they ate or drank while driving. It's safe to assume that many of the drivers you pass every day are doing the same thing.

2. There's an 18 percent increase in poor control.

If you do drink non-alcoholic beverages and drive, studies have found that you're 18 percent more likely to be in poor control of your car. Some of the problem is simply that one hand is holding the cup or mug, not the wheel. Spill risks also increase the danger. A sudden spill is shocking, it pulls your eyes off of the road, and it could even cause you to lose control of the vehicle as you instinctively react.

3. Reaction time drops by 22 percent when drinking.

Reaction time is incredibly important. It's not hard to simply drive along at the pace of traffic, but drivers must react quickly when there's a sudden change. For example, if you come over a hill and find a traffic jam ahead of you, can you stop in time to avoid a rear-end accident? If you're drinking, stats show that your reaction time decreases by 22 percent, making that accident more likely.

4. Reaction time drops by 44 percent when eating.

Eating apparently takes even more of a driver's attention, as reaction times plummet by a full 44 percent. Drivers may be looking away or trying not to spill food on themselves while taking a bite. In an accident, every fraction of a second can make a huge difference, and food clearly makes the odds of a wreck jump considerably.

Now that you know how many other drivers may be eating and drinking during that daily commute, and you know just how dangerous that makes them, it's important to fully understand your legal rights and options when one of these distracted drivers causes an accident and injures you. While eating and drinking may seem like a harmless way to save time, the risks are greater than many drivers ever realize -- until an accident occurs.

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