Toothbrushing motorist highlights dangers of distraction

14.43 | 12 February 2018 | | 5 comments

Image: Northants Police

Northamptonshire Police has released images of a driver caught brushing his teeth at the wheel in an effort to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving.

One of the force’s mobile enforcement vans captured the motorist using an electric toothbrush while driving in March 2017 – on a route which took him past a school shortly after 4pm.

As a result, the driver opted to pay to undertake a driver improvement course, which aims to educate drivers about their behaviour and change attitudes behind the wheel.

Northamptonshire Police is keen to remind motorists that distractions can be visual, mental, auditory or physical, or may combine several elements. For example, using a phone when driving is a mental, physical and visual distraction.

The force adds that anyone can become distracted, including vulnerable road users such as pedestrians or cyclists, making it ‘even more important for drivers to watch out for others’.

PC David Lee, of the force’s Safer Roads Team, said: “Distractions make it harder for drivers to spot hazards and react quickly. Most people understand that using a mobile phone or eating when you’re driving is distracting, but the range of dangerous things we see people doing behind the wheel is ridiculous.

“This incident might look funny at first, but doing anything other than concentrating on the road when you’re driving could result in a serious or even fatal collision.

“We take action against drivers like this on a daily basis to help keep everyone safer on Northamptonshire’s roads, and I’d urge everyone to think twice before trying to multi-task behind the wheel. It’s not safe, it could be illegal, and it could cost someone their life.”


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    It’s a social behaviour thing Bob – there was a time when it would be unusual to see people walking whilst eating and drinking, but now it’s quite common place. I still think it’s an image thing for some “Look at me – I’m important – places to go, people to see – my time is so precious I have to actually eat and drink whilst I’m moving”.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (1) | Disagree (3)

    The scary thing for me, is that our pixelated friend, in the photograph above, hasn’t considered what might happen, if he was to strike another vehicle. The airbag in this relatively new car, would most likely project the toothbrush through the back of his throat!

    Martin A, Ipswich
    Agree (5) | Disagree (0)

    Hugh I cannot agree with your statement that its a new thing. Its been going on for years. I remember whilst in the police service stopping drivers for doing just that but things have got much worse in today’s traffic. You only need to look at any commercial driver of HGVs transit vans, cabbies etc you will find them all eating and drinking at the wheel. Its become as pandemic as tailgating whilst eating…. sorry I meant driving.

    bob craven
    Agree (3) | Disagree (0)

    It’s not just mental distraction, it’s the potential sudden lack of control if the driver has to suddenly drop the food to put his/her hand on the steering wheel, indicator/wiper stalk, gear shift etc. or worse still, tries to do so whilst still holding the said food item. I couldn’t imagine being so hungry that I’d have to eat whilst driving – it’s a relatively new thing and I suspect for some, it may be a way of looking cool behind the wheel, but personally I don’t think the two mix.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (4) | Disagree (16)

    Sorry PC Lee from Northamptonshire, I don’t think ‘most people’ do think eating whilst driving is a distraction – obviously eating a bowl of spaghetti would be, but a sandwich or perhaps an apple? – no way.

    This sort of all encompassing comment just reduces the credibility of the police in my opinion.

    p.s. by 4pm most schools I know are really quiet as the school gate chaos is long gone.

    Guzzi, Newport
    Agree (14) | Disagree (5)

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