Is It Illegal to Eat and Drive in Texas?

Distracted driving is one of the nation’s greatest roadway threats. In 2016, around 3,450 people lost their lives in distracted driving accidents. A distracted driver does not have the same level of concentration, focus, or attention on the road as a prudent driver. This can result in driver errors and preventable collisions, personal injuries, and property damage. Eating and driving is a form of distracted driving that is against the law in Texas.

Were you recently injured by a driver who was eating while driving? If so, you might be eligible for compensation. Speak to one of our Houston distracted driving accident lawyers now.

Three Types of Driver Distraction

Drivers can experience distraction in three main ways: cognitively, manually, and visually. It is every driver’s responsibility to drive safely and prudently and to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of others on the roadway. Driving distracted breaches these duties, because it renders the driver unable to dedicate 100% of his or her time and attention on the driving task. Eating and driving can fulfill all three types of driver distraction:

  1. If a driver focuses his or her mind on food and beverages, he or she is not dedicating 100% attention to the driving task. Cognitive distractions from eating and drinking behind the wheel could be enough to interfere with a driver’s ability to register a dangerous situation and react in time to avoid a collision.
  2. Holding food or a beverage with one or both hands limits a driver’s ability to maneuver the vehicle quickly in changing roadway situations. A driver should keep both hands on the steering wheel at all times to properly remain in control of the vehicle, as well as to steer away from hazards.
  3. Food and drinks can present visual distractions if they take a driver’s eyes away from the road. Looking down at food or beverages as a driver eats or drinks can take the eyes off the road during a critical moment, such as another driver hitting the brakes or a pedestrian walking out into the road. This can result in an accident.

It is dangerous to eat and drive. It is also against the law in Texas. Drivers in Texas cannot engage in any activity that impairs their abilities to safely control and operate the vehicle. If eating and driving distracts a driver enough to affect his or her driving abilities, a police officer could stop the driver and issue a ticket for a broken roadway rule or even reckless driving.

Penalties for Eating and Driving in Texas

In general, an officer cannot stop a driver solely for eating and driving. Instead, the officer will need another reason to conduct the stop, such as a broken roadway rule. Some of the most common broken rules while someone is eating and driving include unsafe lane changes, abrupt stops, speeding, driving too slowly, rolling through stop signs, and running red lights. If a driver breaks a traffic law while distracted by food or drinks, he or she may receive a ticket and a fine.

Distracted drivers can cause collisions while eating behind the wheel. A distracted driver may fail to notice a changing traffic light, ignore the right-of-way, or be unable to brake or maneuver in time to prevent a collision. If someone causes an accident while eating and driving in Texas, that driver may be liable for others’ damages. Since Texas is a fault-based insurance state, the at-fault driver is the one responsible for paying damages. Liability for a distracted driving accident could result in increased insurance premiums and other negative consequences.

Eating and driving is dangerous and against the law in Texas. It could cause an accident or cost someone his or her life. Save your meal for when you get home to keep yourself and others safe on the road. Multitasking behind the wheel is never a good idea, whether you are trying to eat, groom yourself, chat with passengers, or send a text. Texas distracted driving laws aim to reduce the number of unsafe drivers on the road and prevent vehicle collisions. Obey the law and never eat and drive.

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