Texting while driving is rapidly becoming the number one killer on our roads. Drink driving is still a problem but thankfully the authorities seem to be getting it under control, though illegal drugs are causing concerns.

Inattention created by texting is deadly but I’m becoming increasingly concerned about the dangerous practice of ‘eat-driving’ in Australia.

I don’t know if you have ever driven in the United States, but it’s common practice for drivers to have their breakfast during the trip to work in the morning; a hot cup of coffee precariously balanced on the centre console, with the passenger seat acting as a table for a plate of cereal, perhaps even a bacon and egg roll just picked up from a drive-through takeaway.

Our cousins from the other side of the Pacific even chuckle over occasional driving mishaps; heavy braking can cause a huge mess as the ingredients of breakfast mix with one another in a horrible slime on the driver’s lap or the carpet on the other side of the car. I’ve never heard them chuckle over the huge mess created to human bodies during fatal crashes when things really do go wrong, though…

Australians generally aren’t nearly as bad as Americans, but we seem to be moving in the wrong direction. Especially in Sydney and Melbourne where ever-heavier traffic means drivers are having to get up earlier just to get to work on time. And drivers seem to feel that eating, drinking, reading the morning paper, making some phone calls, or scribbling a few notes in the diary is quite acceptable when behind the wheel.

Eat driving is certainly less dangerous than texting behind the wheel, but is still dangerous. Okay, so most try to set up their meals while their cars are stopped in traffic. But we all know the temptation to finish what you are doing after you are able to move off again, and that few seconds of inattention can result in a crash.

Research shows that failure to pay attention – eating, phoning, texting, applying makeup, and much more – causes about 40 per cent of all major crashes in the USA. I see no reason why this figure shouldn’t apply in Australia. Perhaps the Americans have fewer crashes than Australians because they have so much practice at eat driving – so the Aussies may be killing more people per capita than the Yanks.

Failure to pay attention is approximately eight times more dangerous than travelling at excessive speed, but I’m not sure the last time I heard of anyone being pulled over and fined for this dangerous practice.

I’ve said it before and make no apologies for saying it again. The only thing you should be doing whilst driving a car is just that – driving a car. If you don’t have two hands on the steering wheel, two eyes on the road and 100 per cent of your mind on the task at hand you’re putting your life at serious risk.

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *