LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Experts say eating while driving can increase a motorist’s chances of a car accident by 80 percent.
Ryan Harrison, an editor in Burbank, said long hours at work means more time in his car.
“I’d rather just eat on the way home, so I’m killing two birds with one stone,” he said. “I would make scrambled eggs before I go to work and then I’d eat them on the way to work, and I’d also eat yogurt. It’s definitely convenience.”
With so little time and so much traffic, Los Angeles freeways have turned Harrison’s car into a personal dining room.
“There is so much traffic here that you have to drive so slowly and there are so many stop lights,” he said. “I need to eat while I’m driving just to save time.”
Officer Juan Galvan of the California Highway Patrol office in Glendale said that while Harrison’s behavior isn’t illegal, it is unsafe.
“Usually when people take a bite and if they spill, what’s your first reaction? Your first reaction is to let go of the steering wheel or drop whatever it is you’re doing because you want to clean up the mess you possibly caused,” Galvan said.
Law enforcement officials say much like texting and driving, eating also falls under the category of distracted driving.
Asked if the CHP has seen an increase in drivers who eat, Galvan said, “We did have a [Distracted Driving Awareness Month] in April. Over 10,000 enforcement contacts were made and over 240 citations were issued for an unsafe speed related to distracted driving. So, quite possibly, there could have been a good majority that were eating.”
The officer added, “We don’t have a specific section, but for somebody that is eating while driving, now we can go with the unsafe speed section. What is the safe speed for you to eat and drive? The safe speed is ‘zero.'”
Harrison said there’s more to the distracted driving debate than just taking a bite behind the wheel.
“If they make it so you can’t eat and drive, they should take away being able to put on make-up. I’m not going to be eating my hamburger if I’m trying to get across six lanes of traffic and avoid pedestrians and stuff,” he said.
Distracted drivers can be cited anywhere from $100 to $500, or even more.
Click here for a list of the 10 most dangerous foods to eat while driving.