The Dangers of Eating & Driving

Texting and talking on your phone has been at the forefront of debate when it comes to distracted driving.

But what about those who aren't communicating during the rush hour traffic, and instead choose to dine on the road?

"I'm in a hurry a lot and it's easier that way," said Samantha Valdez, "I don't know, it's probably not the safest thing to do."

According to a study done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, people who distract themselves with things such as eating and driving at the same time increase their odds of an accident by 80%.

The study says more than half of near accidents are caused by drivers distracted with things such as food.

A study by ExxonMobile says about 70% of people admit to eating while driving.

"If i'm eating something and it just falls, like a taco, it's just messy and falls in my lap, I kind of panic more than watching the road," said Janie Garza.

The NHTSA also compiled a list of it's top ten most dangerous items to eat or drink while behind the wheel -- that list includes soft drinks, hamburgers, and coffee as the number one item.

"I get a coffee every day, usually just driving back to work with it," said Pam Wingerter.

Washington State Patrol says it's still legal to eat and drive in the state of Washington.

However, it doesn't stop troopers from keeping an eye out for those who may be so distracted, they pose a threat to those around them.

"If it causes them to drive in an unsafe manner, to drive on to the shoulder into the oncoming lane, those are obviously very clear violations that result in a penalty," said Lt. Tom Foster.

That penalty can start at $124.

However, Foster admits troopers normally write a lot less tickets for food related distracted driving than they do for cell phone violations.

And despite the numbers showing the potential dangers and the fact that most are doing it, the drivers we spoke with today believe they are the exception when it comes to safety.

"I think i'm a pretty good driver, i'm really cautious a lot, and i don't let things distract me," said Valdez.