The Dangers of Drinking Coffee While Driving
Distracted driving is a growing concern worldwide, with thousands of accidents and fatal crashes occurring every year due to drivers losing focus while behind the wheel.
While drinking a cup of hot coffee may seem like a small and harmless activity, it can actually contribute to distracted driving and pose a significant danger on the road.
An estimated 80% of the population consumes caffeine-containing beverages, often on a daily basis, making it crucial to understand the potential risks of drinking coffee while driving and take proactive measures to prevent distracted driving incidents.
Any kind of distracted driving is dangerous. However, many people fail to notice that they participate in distracted driving activities on a regular basis. In fact, many drivers participate in one of the most dangerous types of distracted driving- eating and drinking.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administrate states that persons who eat or drink while driving increase the likelihood of car accidents by 80%, a statistic worse than drivers who text and drive.
It may be a surprise to you, but your daily cup of coffee may be the most dangerous thing you enjoy on your morning commute to work. In fact, the NHTSA states that coffee is the single most dangerous beverage and food item a person can consume while driving.
This is because coffee distracts drivers in all three of the distracted driving categories: visual distractions, cognitive distractions, and physical distractions. Below are descriptions of the way drinking coffee while operating a motor vehicle falls into all classifications of distracted driving.
Coffee Can Be a Visual Distraction
Drinking a morning coffee while driving may seem like a routine habit for many, but it can be a dangerous distraction on the road. Visual distractions are a key danger posed by coffee drinking while driving. When tipping the head back to swallow coffee, the eyes are no longer focused on the road. This can lead to accidents in a matter of seconds.
If you look down to grab your coffee cup or to manipulate it into the cup holder, you participate in visual distraction. Although your attention and eyes only be distracted from the road for seconds, your reaction time shortens immensely.
Many drivers admit to looking down at their coffee cup when hitting a bump or pothole in the road since these small bumps cause spills.
The dangers of visual distractions while drinking coffee should not be underestimated. Therefore, it is important for drivers to take safety precautions while driving and avoid consuming coffee or other distractions that can put their life and the lives of others on the road in danger.
Coffee Can Be a Cognitive Distraction
Coffee is a beloved beverage that provides much-needed energy, especially during the morning hours when you are heading out to work. However, drinking coffee while driving can pose a significant risk to road safety.
Drinking coffee while driving can distract you cognitively since you may be thinking about whether your coffee is cool enough to drink, whether you should take a sip at that moment or at the next light, or other matters involving your beverage. Because your mind is occupied with other matters aside from the road, your reaction time may decrease significantly.
One of the main ways coffee can serve as a cognitive distraction is by diverting your attention away from the road. While taking a sip of coffee may seem harmless, it can cause a momentary lapse in focus that could lead to a distracted driving accident.
Excessive caffeine consumption can lead to dependence and withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating which can impair driving abilities.
Coffee Can Be a Physical Distraction
You are physically distracted when drinking coffee and driving since one of your hands is holding your coffee cup, leaving only one hand on the steering wheel. This reduces your ability to react to a road condition or another driver’s maneuvers.
Additionally, many people spill their coffee when driving, causing more distractions. This not only causes physical pain and discomfort but can also result in significant physical distractions, taking your attention off the road. The consequences of a momentary lapse in focus can be fatal, especially while driving on highways or at high speeds.
Physically handling a coffee cup and taking a sip requires you to take your hands off the steering wheel, momentarily taking your eyes off the road. This can interrupt your driving skills and lead to delayed reaction times and decreased driving performance.
If You Have Been Harmed by a Distracted Driver
It is important to pursue legal action if you are facing injuries due to the negligence of a distracted driver. You may receive compensation for any medical, physical expenses, and emotional damages you may accumulate as a result. Do not let another person get away for causing you or your family harm.
Our Las Vegas distracted driving lawyers at Shook & Stone are dedicated to serving our clients with experienced, top-tier representation both inside and outside the courtroom. When you choose to work with our law firm, you can guarantee that an entire team is working hard to deliver the results you deserve. We put an aggressive team on your side and seek maximum compensation.
To discuss your case, contact the Las Vegas distracted driving attorneys at Shook & Stone today!
 J. Mets, M. A., Baas, D., Boven, I. V., Olivier, B., & Verster, J. C. (2012, February 8). Effects of coffee on driving performance during prolonged simulated highway driving. PubMed Central (PMC). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-012-2647-7
Is it okay to drink coffee before driving?
It is generally considered safe to drink coffee before driving as it contains caffeine, which can help improve focus and alertness. It is important to note that excessive consumption of coffee or any caffeinated beverage can lead to increased heart rate and anxiety, which may lead to distracted driving or impaired judgment.
Individuals who are highly sensitive to caffeine may experience jitters or shaky hands, which can also affect their ability to operate a vehicle safely. Therefore, it is recommended to consume a moderate amount of coffee before driving and be aware of any potential side effects that may impair driving ability.
How much caffeine can you have while driving?
There is no set amount of caffeine that is considered safe or unsafe while driving. Caffeine is a stimulant that can affect your ability to focus and react quickly. Consuming too much caffeine can lead to jitters, anxiety, and even heart palpitations, which can impair your driving.
It is best to monitor your caffeine intake and avoid consuming excessive amounts before driving, especially if you are already feeling tired or drowsy. If you are feeling tired, it is recommended to pull over and take a short nap or switch drivers if possible.
Can Caffeine Improve Driving Safety?
Caffeinated drinks can improve driving safety to a certain extent as it acts as a stimulant and helps tired drivers stay awake and alert.
It can also improve reaction time, attention, and concentration, which are all necessary skills for safe driving.
High doses of caffeine can lead to jitters, anxiety, and increased heart rate, which can negatively impact driving ability.
Caffeine may cause people to ignore their body’s natural need for rest, leading to drowsy driving and impaired driving. Therefore, while caffeine may provide temporary benefits for driving safety, it is crucial to balance its use with other healthy habits such as getting enough sleep and taking breaks during long drives.