Do you eat while you’re driving? If you do, you are not alone. A new survey has found that almost two thirds of drivers admit to eating at the wheel, an activity that is distracting and could cause a serious accident.
With studies suggesting that eating while driving can increase your risk of a crash as much as talking on a phone, a leading insurer and road safety charity are urging drivers to pull over before tucking into their food. Keep reading to find out more…
Almost two thirds of drivers eat at the wheel
Three in ten (29 per cent) have unwrapped food themselves at the wheel, something that Brake call ‘a telling symptom of busy lifestyles putting lives at risk.’ A third of drivers confessed to eating food that was unwrapped and passed to them by a passenger while, more worryingly, one in fifty motorists has narrowly avoided a crash in the past year, having had to brake or swerve to avoid a hazard because they were distracted by food or drink.
Whether you drive your car on a contract hire or car leasing agreement or you own your vehicle, eating at the wheel can be dangerous. Brits have been found to spend more on food eaten on the move than any other European nation, with other countries taking time to sit down and enjoy their meal.
Rob Miles, director of Motor at Direct Line, said: “It’s imperative that motorists focus their full attention on the road. There has been significant research into the increase in drivers’ reaction times while talking on a mobile phone, but other in-car distractions that take the driver’s attention away from the road can be equally harmful.
“We advise motorists to always build in time for a break if they are going on a long journey, and use this time to refuel with food and drinks as well as with petrol.”
Distracted drivers more likely to cause an accident
Brake and Direct Line’s survey also reveals that it is not just meal times that are being squeezed by our busy lifestyles. One in five drivers (20 per cent) admit to doing their hair, applying make-up or otherwise tidying up their appearance while at the wheel. One in 20 (5 per cent) admit doing so in free-flowing traffic, putting themselves and other road users at risk.
Eating at the wheel is part of the wider problem of distracted drivers, believed to contribute to around one in five crashes (22 per cent). According to Brake, drivers who attempt to multi-task at the wheel are two to three times more likely to crash, and complex tasks like unwrapping and eating a burger increase the risk even more.
The road safety charity has urges all contract hire, car lease and other drivers to give the road their full attention and save any other activities for regular breaks. Recently introduced ‘on the spot’ fines for ‘careless driving’ offences are a step in the right direction and have already been used on a lorry driver caught brushing his teeth.
Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said: “Driving is the most complicated and risky thing most of us do on a regular basis, so it is vital we give it our full and undivided attention; we can’t afford to treat our cars as an extension of our kitchen or bathroom.
“Eating at the wheel often means taking your eyes, hands and mind off the road and dramatically increases your chances of crashing and killing or seriously injuring someone. Drivers need to take regular breaks and make time away from their vehicles to enjoy lunch or perform other tasks.
“We are also appealing to government to increase fines for distraction and careless driving offences, to stop risky multi-tasking drivers.”