• Aug 24th 2006 at 5:56PM
  • 8
A British study commissioned by an insurance company has determined that noshing behind the wheel doubles the likelihood that a driver will get into an accident. Brunel University researchers put subjects through the paces using driving simulators to arrive at the conclusion.

First, they took virtual rides through an urban route without eating or drinking anything. After that, they repeated the task while sucking down bagged snacks and bottled water. Reseachers found that even though the drivers compensated by slowing down, they still couldn't react quickly enough to avoid colliding with the simulation's virtual pedestrians. In fact, 90% of the crashes recorded occured during the act of eating or drinking.

Dr. Mark Young, the lead researcher, says that the circumstances surrounding eating and drinking while driving make those activities more dangerous than other "menial in-car tasks."

We understand the good doctor's reasoning and generally agree with what he has to say, but we'd like to know if his list of "menial in-car tasks" includes "finding a song three menus deep on an iPod," because while we're not university researchers, we're pretty sure that's way more distracting than reaching into a bag of M&Ms.

Finally, we'd be interested in using the research sims to recreate a typical morning interstate commute sans coffee. We're guessing that the elimination of that particular piping-hot, crotch-threatening caffeinated beverage from the cupholder could result in pileups reminiscent of the ones in the most dramatic CHiPs episodes.

Photo courtesy of Seriouswheels.com

[Source: 4Car]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 9 Years Ago
      lol...A lady turned her car over near my home because she was eating a taco!
      • 9 Years Ago
      Gee, I'm glad they studied this. Wouldn't have believed it without costly, scientific research.

      ANY distractions while driving are dangerous and that should be obvious to all but the smallest-brained morons.
      • 9 Years Ago
      This is the reason why European car makers never put cupholders in their cars until 'persuaded' to do it by American consumers....
      • 9 Years Ago
      Were the subjects in the test allowed to complete their meals safely at their own pace, or were they told "You must eat constantly while driving" or "You must finish your meal by the end of the route"?

      I, for one, eat while driving sometimes. However, I always make sure to pick food items that don't fall apart while eating (chicken strips instead of burgers, for example). Also, the food gets put down in complicated traffic situations - approaching lights, busy freeways, etc. That includes most of what they probably tested in the "urban" driving environment. I grab bites when the road is clear, when I'm sitting at a stop light, etc. Still eating while driving, but it's not quite scarfing a burger while merging lanes either.

      Of course, when I was young and stupid (10 to 12 years ago), I used to eat rice while driving (worked at Taco Bell and loved the mexican rice). That was difficult! No accidents, but I'm not gonna try something that complicated again.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Damn, I could use the extra cash! Maybe I should research how cell phones or picking your nose can distract drivers. Man I'm gonna score some mean cash with that one.
      • 9 Years Ago
      I hope they tip the resturant.
      • 9 Years Ago
      No, not worse than talking on the phone...
      • 9 Years Ago
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