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How many people eat and drink while driving?

Have you ever grabbed a hamburger at the drive-thru or sipped a cup of coffee during your morning commute? Most people have: According to one report, 83 percent of all drivers said they would drink beverages, while 70 percent said they'd eat and drive.

Common or not, experts warn that it's a huge hazard that can cause serious car accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the odds of a wreck go up by 80 percent. A study carried out by Lytx found that drivers who drank or ate were 3.6 times as likely to crash as those who didn't. NHTSA even said that most near-crashes -- 65 percent -- involve these drivers.

So, while it may not seem like a big deal to grab some food to go, it really is. Every year, tens of thousands of people die in serious accidents. In 2015, for instance, 35,092 people were killed. Per capita, that's 10.9 fatalities per 100,000 people.

Even those who survive these accidents often have lasting injuries. The Brain Injury Society notes that about 286,000 traumatic brain injuries are caused by car accidents annually. That's just over 14 percent of all of the TBIs that happen in the United States. A TBI can leave a person disabled, unable to work, in need of life-long care, and with significant medical bills that may last for life.

As you can see, eating and driving can have very serious consequences. Even a second of distraction can cause an accident. For those who suffer life-altering injuries, it's critical to know what rights exist to seek out compensation.

Source: Decide to Drive, "Eating While Driving," accessed Feb. 10, 2017

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