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Eating while driving doubles crash risk

ROAD SAFETY and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist is urging drivers to avoid eating and drinking while at the wheel. Attempting to eat or drink while driving is a distraction estimated to double a driver’s risk of being involved in a crash, according to recent research1. Additionally, it’s an offence punishable either by fixed penalty ticket or under careless driving legislation.

GEM road safety officer 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 the driving task. 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.”

GEM offers the following points for reducing risk on journeys:

  • Make sure you are always in full control of your car. That means both hands – and all your brain – on the driving task. Focusing on anything else is a distraction that will increase the risk of a collision.
  • Plan your journeys so there’s time for snack and drinks breaks built in.
  • Stop somewhere safe, such as a proper parking area or motorway service station.
  • Don’t believe any drivers who say they can multi-task safely while driving.

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