New research highlights dangers of driving and eating

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New research from Brunel University suggests that eating or drinking anything while driving doubles the chances of being involved in a collision.

Now one road safety and breakdown specialist is stressing that food and drink is a “distraction” that’s best avoided altogether when driving.

The Highway Code clearly says such distractions must be avoided. Anything that takes attention from the wheel raises the risk of a collision.

Yet many motorists, seemingly unaware of the risks, are quite happy to spend their journey doing something like unwrapping a pasty or sipping on a scalding hot coffee.

If you are caught eating or drinking behind the wheel, you face a fine and penalty points, which can raise the cost of your motoring insurance.

If you collect too many points, you could face a driving ban that could make it hard to get or keep a job, especially if you drive for a living. Alternatively, you could be prosecuted under careless driving laws, where a Fixed Penalty Notice is not deemed enough to deal with the offence.

The head of the road safety and breakdown specialist says: “Driving is a complicated enough business already, so attempting to do anything else at all simultaneously simply increases the risks involved – because it means you are not totally focused on the task in hand.

“When attention is elsewhere, reaction times inevitably slow down. Then when you do react, you’re also having to deal with the food or drink item at the same time.

“Good and experienced motorists appreciate that it’s not safe to eat or drink anything while being in control of a moving vehicle, and that these distractions shouldn’t be allowed to compromise safety.”

Here are few common sense tips:

• Staying in full control means both hands (and your brain) have to focus on driving. Anything else is a risk that increases the chances of collision.
• Plan journeys to have sufficient time for snacks and drinks as needed.
• When you stop, do somewhere safe, such as a services or a designating parking spot.
• Don’t believe anyone who insists they can safely multi-task while motoring.