Eating whilst behind the wheel is more dangerous than being over the legal alcohol limit or using a phone, research has revealed. A team at the University of Leeds measured the reaction times of drivers indulging in snacks and concluded these are up to 44 per cent slower than usual.
If sipping a drink, motorists are likely to respond up to 22 per cent slower, and are 18 per cent more likely to experience poor lane control.
In comparison, a series of studies undertaken by the Transport Research Laboratory revealed drivers typing text messages at the wheel were 37.4 per cent slower in their reactions while those using hands-free mobile systems reacted 26.5 per cent slower. When driving while at the legal alcohol limit, motorists were slowed down by 12.5 per cent.
Professor Samantha Jamson, from the University of Leeds, commented on the results: "It is accepted that the distraction of talking on a hand-held mobile phone may increase accident risk. However, other activities that involve taking one hand off the wheel, such as eating or drinking, may also cause distraction.”
In the UK eating, drinking and smoking while at the wheel is currently not illegal. If, however, the police believe these activities are influencing your judgment and response speed, you could risk being charged with careless driving.
Make your local and international calls before setting off, or take a break at the next rest stop.