New Mexico drivers should be aware that eating and drinking while on the road can constitute a major distraction. A Lytx study from 2014 says that drivers are 3.6 times more likely to crash when eating or drinking. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that even eating or drinking out of an open container raises the risk for a collision or near-collision by nearly 39%.

There are visual, manual and cognitive distractions, and eating and drinking fall under all three categories. Visual distractions take a driver’s eyes off the road while cognitive distractions take the driver’s mind off the road entirely. The manual kind cause drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel.

Certain foods and drinks present a greater threat for drivers than others. In a list of the 10 most at-risk foods and drinks, the NHTSA included tacos, hamburgers, fried chicken, soup, coffee and soft drinks. Those foods and drinks that are liable to spill pose perhaps the highest risk.

Avoiding such foods should not be too difficult. If drivers take a long trip and cannot wait until they reach their destination in order to eat, then they can consider pulling over to the side of the road. As always, drivers should understand that there are other forms of distraction to watch out for.

Phones, navigation systems and even billboards can all become a distraction. Drivers who cause a wreck because of inattention may have a personal injury lawsuit pursued against them. Victims, for their part, may want a lawyer to help them build up their case because in some situations, there will be little proof of negligence. The lawyer may then take on all negotiations.