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Eating behind the wheel dangerous, say experts

( 12/04/2012 )

Eating while driving could be more dangerous than driving while using a mobile phone, according to new academic research.

Leeds University researchers say the reaction times of motorists and
car insurance policy holders who snacked while driving were 44 per cent slower than usual. Whereas studies made by the Transport Research Laboratory show those motorists who use their phones to text message were 37.4 per cent slower.

The Leeds report also showed that responses were 22 per cent slower when sipping a drink and 18 per cent were more likely to be unable to keep inside the lane.

The Transport Research Laboratory report showed that alcohol at the legal limit slowed reactions by 12.5 per cent and that a hands-free mobile phone conversation slowed reactions by 26.5 per cent.

Smoking, eating and drinking while driving is not illegal in the UK, however drivers can be charged with careless driving if the police believe the driver to be unable to control their vehicle properly as a result.

Professor Samantha Jamson, from the University of Leeds, told the Telegraph: "It is accepted that the distraction of talking on a hand-held mobile phone may increase accident risk."

"However, other activities that involve taking one hand off the wheel, such as eating or drinking, may also cause distraction.

"Drivers take their eyes off the road in order to reach for or unwrap items."

Jamson's research also showed over two million motorists have had an accident or near miss due to driving with only one hand on the wheel.


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