Auto insurance

Semitruck rolled by driver eating a taco

Thursday, October 19, 2017by  Jon Osterberg

Distracted driver eats while behind the wheelWhen's the last time you ate food while driving and spilled something sloppy, perhaps ketchup or mustard, on your lap?

Something like that apparently happened Wednesday on Highway 97 near Blewett Pass, when a truck driver eating a taco rolled his 18-wheeler off the road.

Happily, the driver wasn't injured, but his truck and its spilled load blocked traffic for four hours.

The crash illustrates the logic behind Washington's new distracted driving law that went into effect July 23. Seen mostly as a law to curb harm caused by cell phones, the law also targets distractions like eating, reading, or grooming.

Semitruck rolls off the highwayEating his taco caused the truck driver to lose control of his rig, a Washington state trooper told The Wenatchee World.

PEMCO Claims managers tell me it's not uncommon for food to cause crashes. A driver spills hot coffee on his lap and yelps in pain, taking his eyes off the road. Or a mom reaching to feed a child in the back seat drops the kid's yogurt on the floor, drawing her attention.

In fact, reaching for any kind of dropped item while driving is bad. For example, a CD. Too often when you reach for something on the floor, you inadvertently tug the steering wheel, veering you toward a curb, a parked car … or worse.

Way back in high school, my friend Dennis had a rule for anyone riding in his car: nothing allowed on the dashboard. Not just food, but cigarettes, maps, a pen – anything.

It wasn't just that Dennis kept his car spotless and tidy. He didn't like stuff sliding around on his dash, distracting him. I guess Dennis was ahead of his time.

Spilled food can distract drivers who eat behind the wheelSo back to my question. Do you sometimes eat sloppy food while driving? You should reconsider, not because it could earn you a ticket. Stop doing it because it could hurt you.

Check out the 10 most-dangerous foods to eat while driving, compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration following its study.

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