Eating and drinking at the wheel doubles a driver’s chances of being involved in a crash, according to research highlighted by the road safety charity GEM Motoring Assist.
In a press release issued yesterday (6 Mar), GEM reminded motorists that not being in proper control of a vehicle is an offence punishable by a £100 fixed penalty and three points.
Neil Worth, GEM’s road safety officer, says too many drivers ‘don’t see it as a problem’, adding that driving is ‘a complex enough task already’.
The charity points to research undertaken in 2006 by Brunel University (London), which found that drivers are almost twice as likely to crash when eating or drinking as when driving normally.
The research says that while drivers try to compensate for eating and drinking by driving more slowly and carefully, they are ‘often unable to brake in enough time to avoid a collision’.
GEM is urging drivers to make sure they are always in full control of the vehicle, with both hands and the brain on the driving task.
Neil Worth said: “The Highway Code tells us that we must avoid distractions such as eating and drinking when we are driving. That’s because anything that takes our attention away from the driving task will increase our risk of collision. However, too many drivers don’t see it as a problem to unwrap a pasty, sip a scalding hot coffee or glug from a large juice carton on a journey.
“Driving is a complex enough task already. So trying to do anything else at the same time just makes the journey riskier because we’re not fully focused on driving. If something then goes wrong, we’re likely to react more slowly because our attention is elsewhere – and when we do react, there’s the food item or beverage to deal with, too.
“Good, experienced drivers accept that eating and drinking at the wheel are dangerous, so they won’t allow these distractions to compromise safety."
Want to know more about driver distraction and road safety?
Online library of research and reports etc – visit the Road Safety Knowledge Centre
Key facts and summaries of research reports – visit the Road Safety Observatory