Panic At The Drive-Thru

When you get hungry on the road, drive-thrus save the day. You can swing by your favorite fast-food joint for a burger, shake, or fries, or grab a coffee to fuel your morning commute. Fast-food restaurants, though they don’t always have the healthiest options, are speedy and convenient. When you’re hungry and in a hurry, the drive-thru is usually the perfect option.

But with a bunch of hungry, rushed, and sometimes impatient people lined up, things can quickly go wrong. Drive-thru car accidents are uncommon, and generally result in minor injuries and property damage, but like all other parts of the road, they still require caution and respect for other drivers.

In some drive-thru accidents, the victim’s own car is the culprit. This happened to one woman in South Carolina. As she was waiting in a drive-thru lane at a coffee shop, she dropped something onto the ground outside her car, and opened her door to pick it up. In the process, her foot somehow slipped from the brake, causing the car to move forward. She was dragged against a pillar, and died from her injuries. A man in Texas met a similar tragic fate at an ATM. Like the woman in South Carolina, he was leaning out of the window to collect his money when his car suddenly rolled forward, pinning him against a wall.

Freak accidents like these are scary, but they’re also very rare. On the other hand, rear-endings and road rage violence are much more likely in the drive-thru lane. At the drive-thru, a rear-ending accident can easily occur if someone takes their foot off the brake, or gets impatient and attempts to get too close to the driver in front of them. Usually, these rear-endings are little more than “love taps” against the bumper of the car, yielding very little damage. However, injuries like whiplash or head trauma can still occur even in incredibly minor accidents.

Road rage is another common issue at the drive-thru. In past incidents, “hangry” drivers have rammed other vehicles, engaged in violent confrontation, or even brandished weapons to show their displeasure with slow-moving lines. Road rage often beings with a few curse words or rude gestures, but can quickly escalate, especially if weapons are involved.

When they’re just trying to get a burger or coffee, no one wants to deal with drama at the drive-thru. So, before swinging by your favorite fast food chain tonight, keep these tips in mind:

  • Always drive slowly when in a drive-thru lane.
  • When you’re done and pulling away from the window, continue to watch out for pedestrians and other vehicles.
  • When stopping in a drive-thru lane, like to place or pick up your order, park your car. That way, you don’t have to worry about keeping a foot firmly on a brake. When you’re done, you can put the car back into drive, and be on your way.
  • Before driving away from the window, make sure you have everything, including your food, receipt, and all your change.
  • Be patient! Sometimes, the car in front of you is going to take their sweet time getting out of your way. You just have to deal with it. Don’t honk your horn, yell at them to hurry up, or get out of your vehicle to approach them. Road rage can quickly turn deadly, and you never know how the other driver is going to react, or if they are carrying a weapon.
  • If you have a hot coffee or other hot drink, pull into a nearby parking spot to put in cream or sugar; don’t fidget with the lid while driving. Spilled coffee is definitely a painful distraction!
  • Avoid eating and driving. They might not seem as dangerous as a cell phone, but those delicious fries are distracting you from the road!


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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