I’ve written in the past about the focus on the relative dangers of impaired driving due to alcohol versus impairment from drowsiness, texting or talking on a cell phone. Thanks to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, DUI has been demonized and the penalties have become Draconian. But studies show the dangers from distracted driving can be at least as dangerous — yet this type of conduct is common and punished with a slap on the wrist — if at all. See, for example, Drunk Driving vs Distracted, Drowsy or Drugged Driving, Inebriated or Texting: Which is More Dangerous When Driving?, Driving Under the Influence of…a Cell Phone and Losing Sight of the Goal.
Now another form of impaired driving has been shown to be possibly more dangerous than drunk driving.
Eating While Driving Riskier Than Being Legally Impaired by Alcohol or Texting
Great Britain. May 7 — 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…
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…
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.”
Maybe someone should remind MADD that the goal is saving lives — not returning to Prohibition.