Would you believe that eating food while at the wheel of a vehicle could be more dangerous than drinking or texting while driving?
According to a study by the University of Leeds called “Two Hands Better than One,” this is exactly what researchers found based on observation of test subjects operating driving simulators.
The UK researchers measured reaction time while drivers negotiated virtual vehicles, and as it turns out, eating increased response times by 44 percent.
In contrast, texting increased reaction time by 37 percent, and drinking a non-alcoholic beverage from a can or bottle increased reaction time by 22 percent.
And what about the one driving no-no that that nearly everyone agrees is undesirable – drinking alcohol and operating a vehicle?
Drivers asked to operate the simulator who were at the U.S. “legal limit” of .08 percent blood alcohol content increased reaction time by 12.5 percent.
We have heard no word yet on whether Mothers Against Drunk Driving will now open an auxiliary unit focusing on the ill effects of fast food drive-in lines and convenience stores.
Seriously though, distracted driving is a real problem – as is following too closely, we’ll add.
Common sense dictates that drivers can compound their chances for an accident if they do not self-govern and recognize their limits. And as the study indicates, a distraction can come in several forms – even ones that have been considered benign.
In fact also, different people have different levels of skills, psychological temperaments, tolerances, and in short, what one person may get away with, could be deadly for another.
For example, studies on alcohol consumption and driving have shown some habitual drunk drivers did so dozens of times before actually being caught by the law.
For one thing, researchers found habitual drunk drivers can be practiced at hunkering down and focusing as much of their waning attention ability on the task at hand, for fear of being busted.
In contrast, eating while driving is a time-honored tradition – and big business we’ll add – and perhaps this could create a false sense of security?
Much more could be said about this subject which the U.S. Department of Transportation has been up in arms about in recent years, labeling distracted driving an “epidemic.”
Bottom line is be safe, and stay in control. Try to recognize what will distract you and as a word to the wise: don’t do it.