Snacking While Driving Doubles Accident Rates

by VR Sreeraman on  July 10, 2007 at 4:15 PM General Health News   - G J E 4
Snacking While Driving Doubles Accident Rates
If you're thinking about munching on that snack while driving then don't, for a new study has found that eating at the wheel doubles the rates of accidents.

Researchers at Brunel University carried out a study to see whether or not eating or drinking at the wheel has any effect on a person's reflexes while driving. They found they are nearly twice as likely to be taken by surprise if a pedestrian walks in front of their car if doing so.

As a part of their study the researchers created a nine-minute urban drive on a simulator.

The drivers were then told when to snack. Shortly after eating or drinking, at designated points a pedestrian walked in front of their car, allowing the researchers to measure the drivers' reactions.

The results showed that while drivers can cope while eating during normal driving, the problem arises when there is a sudden increase in the demand for their attention.

"The evidence suggests that the physical demands of eating and drinking while driving can increase the risk of a crash,'' the Independent quoted the researchers, as stating.

"The results of the present study lend weight to the argument that eating or drinking at the wheel can have detrimental effects on driving safety. Since drivers do not necessarily perceive the risk, they choose not to modify their eating behaviour, and rather rely on adapting their driving. Thus snacking at the wheel appears to have little effect on 'normal' driving which may reinforce the driver's risk perceptions.

"This strategy may be inconsequential during normal driving, but the increased crash risk is realised in the abnormal situation requiring an emergency response, when the increased demands mean drivers are less able to cope.

"Our results suggest that eating and drinking at the wheel is best confined to the service area,'' they state in their study entitled 'Crash dieting: The effects of eating and drinking on driving performance'.

Source: ANI

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