We all know that texting while driving is verboten, but distraction doesn’t only come from your phone. Any activities that pull your attention away from driving can be considered distracted driving, and eating is no exception. In a fast-paced, high-stress world, it’s unsurprising that many drivers try to grab a meal on the run. But this practice is a dangerous one that can cost you dearly. Distracted driving kills more than 3,000 people every year, and no meal is worth your life or well-being.
Colorado’s distracted driving laws are general, and can even seem vague. This is intentional, though, because it allows police officers to write tickets to any driver who seems distracted, regardless of the reason.
Most guides to distracted driving specifically mention eating, though, and you can bet that if you get into an accident while eating, you’ll likely be receiving a ticket. Eating almost always requires you to give up at least one hand, and typically requires you to look away from the wheel. Even a split second spent with your eyes off the road is sufficient to lead to a serious accident – a risk you don’t want to take.
Other Forms of Distracted Driving
It’s not just eating that can distract you. In addition to texting and talking on the phone, drivers can become distracted in a myriad of ways, including:
- Playing with the radio or changing the song on your iPod
- Looking behind you to talk to a person in the backseat
- Arguing with a passenger
- Putting on makeup, shaving, or otherwise grooming yourself
- Looking at a map
- Watching videos or listening to your GPS unit
Penalties for Distracted Driving
The most severe penalty for distracted driving is the loss of life or sustaining/causing injury; however, these are not the only repercussions you will face if you are distracted behind the wheel. In Colorado, a typical fine for distracted driving is $50 coupled with 1 demerit point taken from your license. Other states vary in the punishment that is assigned for the same offense. Fines can range from $25 to $10,000 and demerits are also assigned in many states.
Avoiding Distracted Driving
When you’re under pressure to get somewhere quickly, distracted driving can seem like a small and inconsequential risk. But the costs are potentially catastrophic. You can be ticketed, and if you get into an accident, can lose plenty of time and money. You could even severely injure yourself or another person.
If there’s something you absolutely have to do right now, pull over to do it. Your life and security are worth more than a quick meal, and you will never regret deciding to drive safely. The decision to drive while distracted, however, could haunt you for the rest of your life.
McDivitt’s annual PSA Contest for high school students focuses on the detrimental effects of distracted driving. McDivitt Makes a Difference, McDivitt Law Firm’s community outreach program, is committed to keeping our roads safe and believes our PSA contestants do a fabulous job of reminding everyone about the dangers involved with distracted driving. Watch to see the life-changing outcome that our 2010 PSA Contest winner showcased in his video.