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.