South Africa’s expansive geography and far stretching distances between major cities and towns more than ever results in there being a few stops along away when undertaking a road trip during the festive season, over a long weekend or during the daily grind.
What can be expected though is that during these “comfort breaks”, the need to feed one’s hunger or pick-up a sweet or chocolate would inevitably arise, resulting in what could potentially be an accident waiting to happen when you get behind the wheel.
According to a study conducted by Brunel University in 2016, eating behind the wheel actually doubled the risk of having an accident and that “perceived driver workload was significantly higher (when eating) compared to driving normally”.
“Despite some methodological limitations of the study, when taken together with previous research, the evidence suggests that the physical demands of eating and drinking while driving can increase the risk of a crash,” the study found.
Much like texting and driving, eating behind the wheel causes the driver to become distracted behind the wheel, as he/she has to take their eyes off the road to either open the wrapper or packet their eat of choice came in. Fiddling with this means that you are not only paying attention to the road in front, but also that both your hands are not on the wheel where they should be.
Opening a can of fizzy drink or eating a spill prone food item could also have repercussions as you will instinctively look down in the case of spill, which again means that your eyes are off the road. Reaching for a serviette or cloth to wipe the spillage away provides further distraction, and only results in the surface and your hand becoming sticky.
Arguably in-line with this, from a South African standpoint at least, is the tossing of food items whether it be wrappers, containers or cans from open car windows.
A bugbear for many motorists and an issue that is seldom raised, throwing these items out when on the move rates as not only downright inexcusable, but could result in those following you needing to serve to avoid possible damage, or worse, loose control and get hit from the front or rear. Rather keep a bag inside your vehicle or finish your eats before setting off.
The simple fact is, eating and driving, while seemingly harmless, can have the opposite effect in the blink of an eye. The short solution is; when out on the road and behind the wheel, rather finish your meal when standing still or sit down at the eatery and relax. Ignoring this and then setting off could potentially not only be your last ride, but final meal as well.