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Do you have an appetite for distraction?

By in Crime, Law, Legal Affairs on May 30, 2016

We all know that drinking and driving is illegal and a terrible idea – but is it just as bad if you’re drinking a latte instead of a beer?

Earlier this year, a motorist in the UK was fined £145 (over R3000) for eating a banana behind the wheel. The fine was issued as she was ‘endangering other road users’. Last month, the Federal Traffic Council in Dubai proposed that eating and drinking while driving (as well as other violations like applying make-up, taking a selfie, reading, watching televisions in cars and smoking) be considered as traffic violations resulting in a Dh1,000 (R4316) fine.

According to Bianca de Beer, Dialdirect’s spokesperson: “While most of us can avoid driving under the influence of alcohol, or checking our screens until we’ve reached our destination, there is one dangerous habit that many are guilty of – eating and drinking at the wheel. It’s an often overlooked as a distraction, but a snack can be more distracting than a conversation with the passenger next to you,” says de Beer.

According to a study conducted by Brunel University in London, drinking and eating while driving doubles the likelihood of having a car accident.  Additionally, 65% of near-miss crashes are caused by distracted drivers who are eating or drinking while driving.

While there are strict measures in place to prevent drivers from operating a vehicle under the influence, or from sending a status update while sitting at a stop sign, there are no official rules in South Africa to stop you from wolfing down a whole burger and chips on the way home from the drive-through.

“As responsible road users, I think there needs to be equal emphasis on where and when you eat, just as much as on what you’re eating. I believe that we need to extend our personal discipline to turning off our phones, putting down our sandwiches, and just focusing on the road when we’re driving. While you’re trying to catch up with friends or grab a quick snack you risk having an accident or hitting someone. We know that time is precious, but we need to preserve our lives as well,” emphasises de Beer.

The biggest meal-time offenders are anything that can mess, smear or spill while driving- especially anything that is typically served hot. These messes aren’t just bad for your upholstery. Spilling something will inevitably create some kind of distraction for the driver, and cause him or her to look away from the road.

According to a study based on food-related insurance claims from insurance.com, here are the top 10 worst foods to eat or drink while behind the wheel:

  1. Coffee
  2. Soup
  3. Wraps (or any kind of saucy sandwich)
  4. Mince
  5. Hamburgers
  6. Braai meat
  7. Fried chicken
  8. Filled donuts
  9. Soft drinks
  10. Chocolate

“We’ve gotten so used to multi-tasking and trying to do more in less time that most of us are guilty of sipping a coffee, or grabbing lunch on the go, while trying to navigate to our next meeting. At Dialdirect, we firmly believe in a convenient lifestyle, but never to the point that it infringes on road safety,” concludes de Beer.