Road Safety News
 

Don’t let your lunch be a crash diet - Brake

Thursday 6th October 2016

In a new survey by Brake, a third of drivers questioned admitted they sometimes eat food behind the wheel, making them ‘twice as likely to crash’, according to the road safety charity.

Published today (6 Oct), the survey shows that more than a quarter of respondents (27%) have unwrapped and eaten food, while a third (33%) admit to eating food someone else has unwrapped for them.

Brake says the ‘worst offenders’ are drivers aged 25-34 years, with more than half (55%) admitting they have unwrapped and then eaten at the wheel. Just under a third of those admit to doing so at least once a week.

Additionally, one in 10 of the drivers who responded said they had been involved in a near-miss because they were distracted by eating food. A near-miss is classed as having to suddenly brake or swerve to avoid a hazard.

Brake points to research carried out in 2008 which found that drivers who eat and drink at the wheel are twice as likely to crash, and a separate study from 2009 which suggests this risk may be even higher if the food is hot, messy or the driver also has to unwrap the item.

The charity adds that eating and drinking diverts attention away from the driving task, increasing reaction times by up to 44%, meaning drivers respond to hazards much more slowly. It also causes physical distraction as at least one hand is off the wheel.

While it is not against to law to eat while driving, it can be an offence if a person’s driving becomes distracted by the process.

Alice Bailey, communications and campaigns advisor for Brake, said: “Imagining a distracted driver you may think of someone on a mobile phone, but many things can dangerously draw our attention away from the roads.

“In the fast-paced world we live in it is sometimes tempting to eat on the go, but drivers who are distracted by something else, even food, significantly increase their risk of causing a devastating crash.”

Picture: Brake via Twitter.

 

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When talking to the public on this topic, I ask them to visualise drinking from a plastic bottle as the air bag goes off. I’m not sure if it really would cause a lot of damage, but it’s enough to convince some not to try it in the future!
Martin: Suffolk

Agree (1) | Disagree (0)
+1

The person I described had been 'driving whilst occasionally sipping from a cup' Nick - he wasn't carrying it around to warm the car interior of the car up. He'd hastily put it between his knees when he saw us and then clumsily brought his car to stop - which took a while, because he 'didn't want to spill his drink'. It's sloppy driving by any standards and compromises control which is one of the things that 'causes the collisions' to answer your last question.
Hugh Jones,

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-1

Hugh - I would not equate driving whilst occasionally sipping from a cup in the way I described with someone balancing a hot cup of coffee between their knees whilst doing 40 in a 30mph limit. That is an act likely to lead to the inability to carry the genetic line on!

One person behaving like that is not basis to ban all drinking at the wheel. The public, I doubt, would not accept that law in the same way that they did for Drink Driving. It seems that the more we ban or call for banning certain activities or actions we are moving away from the understanding that what really counts is concentrating on what is coming up and just because we are not engaging in the banned activities does not mean we are necessarily concentrating on the task in hand. Enforcement of a ban on day dreaming anyone?

I am aware that this might sound like I condone "multi-tasking" whilst at the wheel, I don't actively encourage it but feel we need to keep a handle on what actually causes the collisions.
Nick, Lancashire

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+3

If it's any help Nick, I once stopped a motorist doing 40 in a 30 (and accelerating) not wearing his seat belt and with an open topped container of hot coffee wedged between his knees. They don't just get one thing wrong - they get everything wrong.

I don't think I've ever been so hungry or thirsty that it was absolutely vital that I satisfied my craving there and then whilst driving. It's sloppy attitudes to safety and the bad habits that people seem to get into, especially when they see others doing it - I think some do it because they think it makes them looks cool at the wheel.
Hugh Jones,Cheshire

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+1

An interesting article given that 'Petrolprices.com' are carrying (and thus promoting?) an item for sale encouraging eating and working at the wheel? (https://www.petrolprices.com/best-car-gadgets)
Rob Wiltsher - Bristol

Agree (2) | Disagree (0)
+2

Does anyone have any evidence of any injuries caused by a driver eating or drinking at the wheel? I can recall only ever seeing a police report which suggested that the driver was reading the ingredients of a well known "cake" and then drove into the back of another vehicle. One in 20 odd years.

Perhaps we need to lobby the car makers to stop providing cup holders accessible by the driver and for all drive through food/drink facilities to only have passenger side windows? Think the stable door was opened early on this one......

Does anyone think that drinking a coffee whilst concentrating is safer than not drinking whilst not concentrating, especially on a road with junctions only every few miles and no pedestrians or cyclists flying off the pavements?
Nick, Lancashire

Agree (3) | Disagree (0)
+3