Drivers are being urged to take a break and enjoy their food away from their vehicles, as road safety charity Brake and Direct Line reveal more than six in ten (62%) have eaten at the wheel in the past year.
Three in ten (29%) unwrapped food themselves at the wheel - a telling symptom of busy lifestyles putting lives at risk. Studies have suggested eating a meal at the wheel increases your risk of a devastating crash as much as talking on a phone.
Brake and Direct Line's survey of 1,000 drivers reveals that in the past year:
- Three in ten (29%) have opened and eaten food at the wheel.
- A third (33%) have eaten food that was unwrapped and passed to them by a passenger.
- One in 50 (2%) has narrowly avoided a crash in the past year, having had to brake or swerve to avoid a hazard because they were distracted by food or drink.
The numbers of UK drivers eating at the wheel reflects a wider trend towards eating on the move, as lifestyles become ever more fast-paced. Britons have been found to spend more on food eaten on the move than any other country in Europe, with our continental neighbours more likely to take time out to enjoy meals.
Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of Brake, said: "Driving is the most complicated and risky thing most of us do on a regular basis, so it is vital we give it our full and undivided attention; we can't afford to treat our cars as an extension of our kitchen or bathroom. Eating at the wheel often means taking your eyes, hands and mind off the road and dramatically increases your chances of crashing and killing or seriously injuring someone. Drivers need to take regular breaks and make time away from their vehicles to enjoy lunch or perform other tasks. We are also appealing to government to increase fines for distraction and careless driving offences, to stop risky multi-tasking drivers."
Rob Miles, director of Motor at Direct Line, added: "It's imperative that motorists focus their full attention on the road. There has been significant research into the increase in drivers' reaction times while talking on a mobile phone, but other in-car distractions that take the driver's attention away from the road can be equally harmful. We advise motorists to always build in time for a break if they are going on a long journey, and use this time to refuel with food and drinks as well as with petrol.