Drivers urged to take time out to eat as more than six in ten fill their faces while behind the wheel.
More than six in ten motorists eat while driving, a study carried out by charity Brake and Direct Line has revealed. Three in ten unwrap food themselves at the wheel, while a third (33 per cent) have eaten food that was unwrapped and passed to them by a passenger. Worryingly, one in 50 have narrowly avoided a crash in the past year because they were distracted by food or drink.
It’s not just at meal times when drivers place themselves at risk. One in five drivers (20 per cent) admitted to doing their hair, applying make-up, or tidying up their appearance. Check out our story on how half of young female drivers use their cars as a ‘second wardrobe’.
Eating while behind the wheel is believed to contribute to one in five crashes (23 per cent). Drivers who attempt to multi-task at the wheel are two to three times more likely to crash.
Brake has urged all drivers to pay full attention to the road and to save eating or doing other activities for regular breaks. These breaks, it says, should be at least every two hours on long journeys. Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of Brake, commented: “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.”
Ms Townsend added: “Eating at the wheel often means taking your eyes, hands and minds 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.”
Eating while driving can have tragic consequences. In May 2012, cyclist Joe Wilkins was killed by a driver who was eating a sandwich. The driver crashed into the back of Joe’s bike at 60mph, sending the cyclist flying into a ditch over 20 metres from where he was hit.
Are you guilty of eating behind the wheel? Been involved in an accident with someone who was? Let us know.