Distracted driving crashes are all too common in New Mexico. While many are caused by drivers calling or texting behind the wheel, there’s another factor that can be overlooked, and that’s the presence of food and drinks in the car.

According to a 2014 study from the telematics company Lytx, drivers who eat and drink are 3.6 times more likely to crash than are drivers who remain attentive to the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that the risk for a crash or near crash goes up 36% when eating or drinking out of an open container.

Drivers should understand that there are three types of distractions. Manual distractions take their hand from the steering wheel. Visual distractions take their eyes from the road. Cognitive distractions take their mind off of driving. Eating and drinking can constitute one or more of these distractions at the same time. There’s also the risk of food and drink spilling and causing even more distractions.

The NHTSA has a list out of the 10 most dangerous foods and beverages for drivers, and it includes fried chicken, hamburgers, tacos, cream-filled donuts, soft drinks, soup and coffee. At the very least, drivers should avoid these while on the road and pull over if they are on a long road trip and cannot.

Drivers need to remember that they have a duty to keep others safe on the road. If eating and drinking interfere with this, then they are being negligent. Victims of car accidents who find out that the other driver was negligent may be able to seek compensation from that driver’s insurance provider, but they may want a lawyer to assist them. The lawyer may hire crash investigators to look into the incident before heading off to the negotiation table.