Wednesday 18th January 2012
Be Wiser Insurance

With our hectic lifestyles these days it is no wonder that often we are forced to snack while behind the wheel of our car. However, a recent news item has shown that this action could increase the risk of accidents.

The initial report was commissioned by a leading insurance provider and is based on 26 individuals who were driving a Ford Mondeo simulator on a standardised urban route. Drivers were asked to perform a single lap without eating before repeating the task while eating from a bag of wrapped sweets or drinking from a bottle of water.

The report concluded that the mental workload required to eat, drink and drive at the same time was significantly raised, indicating that drivers who consume en route have a greatly reduced "ability to deal with other events". It was shown that in fact the level of distraction was around the same as using a handheld mobile phone at the wheel, which is currently illegal.

Although drivers who eat or drink behind the wheel often overcompensate for the distractions by driving with exaggerated care, it seems they still suffer lapses of concentration and reduced reaction times.

A spokesperson for the research group said: "Drivers may not perceive the risk to be any higher than other menial in-car tasks, but the impaired reactions combined with the increased workload suggest drivers should exert caution."

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