December 1 – 7 is National Safe Driving Week and, in partnership with the Insurance Brokers Association of Canada, the Canada Safety Council wants to highlight the dangers of distracted driving, with a particular focus on eating behind the wheel
“Distraction is distraction, no matter how you slice it,” said Gareth Jones, President and CEO of the Canada Safety Council. “We all have a responsibility — to ourselves, to our loved ones and to our fellow road users — to remain vigilant at all times and stay focused on the task at hand.”
The task of driving always requires your full attention. Any activity that removes your focus off the road can be qualified as distraction. This can include using your phone, reprogramming your radio or Global Positioning System (GPS), grooming, entering a conversation with passengers and, yes, even eating and drinking behind the wheel.
A momentary loss of focus on the road can cost you a second or two in which to react to a sudden change in expected traffic or behaviour. And that small moment of time can make all the difference in the world.
Though eating while driving is considered a form of distraction, it is not included in the purview of most provincial governments’ distracted laws. But being stopped while distracted from eating or drinking could still net you a hefty fine, often under the heading of careless or reckless driving.
The Traffic Injury Research Foundation estimates the annual cost to society of road crashes at approximately $25 billion. This includes direct property damage, indirect costs and the loss of productivity due to the associated pain and suffering.
(according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:)
It’s a common activity, with some polls online estimating the number at up to 70 per cent of all drivers. Distraction behind the wheel is a major contributor to collisions and near-misses; however, drivers do not often correlate eating behind the wheel as a form of distraction.
HOW DO I AVOID IT?
No meal is worth endangering the lives of your fellow road users or your own. Act responsibly and help keep Canadian roads safe for everyone!