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Have you eaten a sandwich while driving?
Yes, I have and I expect to do it again 70%  70%  [ 45 ]
No, I never have and never will 16%  16%  [ 10 ]
I have in the past, but I won't in the future 13%  13%  [ 8 ]
I never have, but I might in the future 2%  2%  [ 1 ]
Total votes : 64
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2007 03:18 
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To be fair, there have been occasions when I've spent a long time in traffic and have eaten, normally a mars bar or something of that ilk, opened whilst stopped, sometimes at the start of a run. I work on the basis that if need be it gets dropped and ignored. Never been in that position but there we go.

I do know some collegues who will eat a full packed lunch at the wheel, the reasons given tend be divided between a. demands placed by the employer and b. I'm not paying bloody services prices.

If we want drivers to change behaviour we need to understand the root cause of that behaviour/perception.

I do like the idea that Ernest has seen in France of the rest areas, I think, though have only hearsay evidence that motorway services as run now may have a negative impact on road safety:

Prices, some drivers do eat in the car for the reasons given above, cut out the rip-off factor would that encourage drivers to stop and take a break (be it eating, walk around or wc).
Parking charges, am seeing more sings saying that parking is provided for X services customers. And less discretion in the times before ticketing kicks in.
Charging for water to top up bottle wash and charging for airlines. On a grotty weather day, starting with a full bottle I can run dry by mid afternoon, or would if I didn't carry extra in the boot.

I know digressing but am trying to think of reasons.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2007 03:53 
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Safety Engineer wrote:
I know digressing but am trying to think of reasons.


Surely we all have busy lives and if we can save time (practically / safely) by doing two things at once it is sensible to do so.

The issue then becomes one of: Is it possible to eat a sandwich and drive safely?

a) If we believe it is safe, we do it.
b) If we don't believe it is safe then we don't.

Perhaps there are a few around who...

c) don't believe that it's safe but do it anyway
d) wrongly believe that it's safe and do it mistakenly

We seem to be mostly a)s. There are clearly some b)s, and I'd be interested to hear their logic.

I think there's too much skill and too much caring around here for there to be more than one or two c)s or d)s.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2007 08:22 
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SafeSpeed wrote:
We seem to be mostly a)s. There are clearly some b)s, and I'd be interested to hear their logic.

It's mainly a case of being something I have never felt the need to do and can't envisage that need ever arising in the future. Likewise I have never felt the need to drink water or a soft drink from a bottle while driving. However I will admit to doing other things while driving (such as unwrapping sweets) which some may construe as potentially dangerous.

Also some people will set themselves standards of behaviour on various points which exceed legal requirements.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2007 09:44 
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I have eaten a sandwich at the wheel and I think that my choice of filling was my downfall :( I ended up with more of it down myself than in my mouth :lol:

I think eating something like a chocolate bar is a bit different - they don't tend to fall apart for a start. I often keep a chocolate bar in the car for long journeys because I tend to find that I get very tired and jittery when my blood-sugar levels fall too low (I'm not diabetic BTW), so a quick sugar rush makes all the difference. I also tend to have a 'sports cap' drinks bottle in the car too - no need to faff about trying to open it and its far less likely to spill.

Like anything, there's a time and a place. I wouldn't dream of trying to eat at the wheel in urban traffic, in bad weather, whilst towing etc, but on the motorway in good conditions I really don't see a problem with it. I can quite happily drive for 4 - 5 hours without a stop so yes, I can get very hungry and thirsty in that time.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2007 09:50 
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Surely crashes don't happen just because one person decides to eat one sausage roll, or make one call on the mobile, or read one clients letter, or....etc etc.
They happen because, across the board, there are inummerable occurences, repeated over and over, which cumulatively degrade our ability to concentrate and observe the road ahead. Every now and then someone, somewhere screws up and we have another statistic the root cause of which is lost is all the noise.
Therefore, to me at least, it stands to reason that if we reduce the system wide degradation in concentration, observation and ability to control ones vehicle we will bring the casualty rates down. This means accepting that, as individuals, each distraction from the core task of driving the vehicle adds to the cumulative distraction regardless of how safe we think we are at that moment in time.
A little personal contribution/sacrifice for the wider good, and all that jazz :lol:


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2007 10:27 
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If I'm doing a short hop (<2 hours) then I'll plan and go hungry if necessary.
If I'm doing a long haul (>2 hours) then I'll plan to stop. However, I sometimes get fed the occasional crisp or twiglet if I’m with friends. I eat sarnies is when I’m driving to/from Munich as I prefer to get the bulk of it done during daylight (I’ll stop only when my car is about to) – even then I get fed.

I generally don't eat and drive, hell I don't even listen to the radio (except for traffic reports). However, if I happen to have food with me (rare) and I get caught in a jam then I will make the most of it. What does this count as?


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2007 10:48 
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Riggers, unless you are talking about a specific instance in which an eater-driver crashes into a phoner-driver because their extra in-car tasks both diverted their attention at a pivotal moment then your reasoning falls foul of the fact that every single accident is a discrete event, unaffected by those that go before or come after, and not in any way exacerbated or mitigated by the actions of those not involved.

Cumulative distraction, or distraction of any description, is not inversely proportional to safety in a linear fashion. Driving cannot take up 100% of our concentration at all times, otherwise it would be far too exhausing for us to be able to do it for as long as we do. Spare capacity can be used for other tasks simultaneously without detracting in any way from the driving task, until such time as capacity overload is reached. The sticking point, however, is that the capacity required for driving is not fixed. This can be mitigated by only undertaking tasks requiring extra capacity when driving capacity requirements are low, and likely to remain so for the duration of the task.

I'm sure that everyone, on at least one occasion in their driving careers, has experienced capacity overload; be it looking for signs or landmarks in unfamiliar territory, dealing with the kids in the back, trying to pick up something thats fallen off the passenger seat, etc. We probably all experienced similar symptoms, a deep unease, neglect of ancilliary tasks such as indicating, and probably an adrenalin release. Capacity increases with experience of the task(s) involved.

Thus it is not automatic that if you use some capacity for a non-driving task it must detract from the capacity you are devoting to driving, but it is, of course, possible. It is not the tasks themselves that are the dangerous aspect, but the decision to undertake them at a time where spare capacity is either unavailable, or likely to become so due to forseeable conditions, or even the unwillingness to discard non-driving tasks in order to free up capacity when an emergent situation places more demands on the driver. The existing legislation was quite adequate for dealing with those who lacked the judgement to not place additional demands on their capacity in high-workload environments, but there is absolutely no reason to criminalise those with an awareness (subconciously for the most part) of their own spare capacity, for utilising it in an environment where it is adequate for the task, and likely to remain so.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2007 11:51 
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RobinXe wrote:
Riggers, unless you are talking about a specific instance in which an eater-driver crashes into a phoner-driver because their extra in-car tasks both diverted their attention at a pivotal moment then your reasoning falls foul of the fact that every single accident is a discrete event, unaffected by those that go before or come after, and not in any way exacerbated or mitigated by the actions of those not involved.


Robin, my reasoning was that, whilst each crash is a discrete event in its own right as you say, the 'error' links in the chain of events that lead up to it will often have been repeated many, many times over but not co-incidentally in a way that results in disaster.
Thus, if we can eradicate one of those links from that particular chain (by encouraging drivers not to engage in secondary tasks whilst driving) we can help bring accident stats down. Its the old risk triangle thing isn't it? At the top are the crashes, and below it at the base are the multitude of risky behaviours that lead to the crashes occuring. If we tackle the events at the base, no matter how trivial they appear to be, we can effect the number of events that appear at the top.
Isn't this how workplace risk management works? Safety Engineer I'm looking at you for guidance here :lol:
Furthemore, we talk a lot about road safety messages in here. Isn't the best message to tell drivers not to engage in a secondary activity not related to driving their car whilst at the wheel? Its clear and unambiguous after all.
However, perhaps with the mobile phone law we risk identifying one behaviour and risk, by omission of absolute identification, drivers believing that its OK to do other things.

Ultimately I belive that this, and the speed limit enforcement debate, boils down to the needs and requirements of the individual versus those of the system. As individuals we all think our little indiscretions, phone calls, sarnie bites etc etc are done in the safest way and we should be left to get on with it. But across the system they add up to a cumulative problem where the process of self-assessment goes wrong.

However, at the end of the day we have to be realsitic as well. There are 30 million drivers in the country and some of them are inevitably going to feel the need to use the phone, eat etc etc, and its how we deal with those events that is important.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2007 12:07 
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Rigpig wrote:
Robin, my reasoning was that, whilst each crash is a discrete event in its own right as you say, the 'error' links in the chain of events that lead up to it will often have been repeated many, many times over but not co-incidentally in a way that results in disaster.
Thus, if we can eradicate one of those links from that particular chain (by encouraging drivers not to engage in secondary tasks whilst driving) we can help bring accident stats down.


Brilliant post Rigpig... You're right about system-wide risks and the accident triangle.

But the one area where we need to be cautious is in identification of risk factors. Current road safety policy seems to be mainly based on a miss-assessment of the risk factors - and that's the last mistake in the world that we should be repeating.

Is eating a sandwhich a real risk factor? I don't think it is. On rare occasions it might reveal a dangerous attitude problem. On most occasions it might well indicate confident and accurate individual risk assessment - and we need more of that, not less.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2007 12:36 
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Rigpig wrote:
But across the system they add up to a cumulative problem where the process of self-assessment goes wrong.


I can't see how it could be a cumulative problem; some people are going to conduct non-driving activities when it is not safe to do so, by either a lack of judgement or through lack of care, and thereby cause a danger. No matter how many other drivers safely conduct non-driving tasks at the wheel, their actions neither make the former group safer nor more dangerous.

You are right that removing any link in the chain prevents the incident, but my assertion is that conducting a non-driving task at the wheel does not always constitute a link in any chain at all.

If conducting non-driving tasks at the wheel made everyone doing so that bit more dangerous, then I could see your point, that across the system eventually two or more people with elevated risk would coincide and create an incident that one on their own would not have, but just doing something other than driving whist at the wheel does not automatically add danger. Only if the task is sufficiently complex, or conducted in such a road situation, that the driver's capacity is exceeded does their safety decline. To combat this we do not need an exhaustive list of what not to do at the wheel or when since, as you've highlighted, that introduces errors of omission. What we do need is legislation under which the police can stop and, if necessary, prosecute motorists for conducting activities which are increasing the danger on the roads. Its quite handily covered by the Careless/Dangerous driving legislation.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2007 13:54 
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SafeSpeed wrote:
Is eating a sandwhich a real risk factor?


I believe the error here is trying to identify individual discrete activities. Eating a sandwich is, IMHO, just a metaphor for any behaviour conducted whilst driving that does not concern itself with the proces of operating the vehicle. A point made by Robin, although not in the same vein.

RobinXE wrote:
If conducting non-driving tasks at the wheel made everyone doing so that bit more dangerous, then I could see your point, that across the system eventually two or more people with elevated risk would coincide and create an incident that one on their own would not have, but just doing something other than driving whist at the wheel does not automatically add danger.


It doesn't have to make everyone that bit more dangerous, it just has to make enough of us sufficiently more dangerous to make a difference.

However, I feel we may be talking a cross purposes slightly. I'm not saying we need to come down like a ton of bricks on anyone caught sticking a wotsit in their mouth whilst waiting at the traffic lights. But...

SafeSpeed wrote:
On rare occasions it might reveal a dangerous attitude problem. On most occasions it might well indicate confident and accurate individual risk assessment - and we need more of that, not less.


Surely the best possible solution is to remove the need for a risk assessment at all? Discourage people from eating, phoning etc at the wheel by reminding them that their primary concern is controlling the vehicle. Reduce the number of risk assessments that need to be conducted (working along the base of the triangle again) and you reduce the number that will be screwed up surely? Trying to make people better at conducting an assessment they don't really need to make in the first place is an exercise in Tower of Babel construction - it will never satisfactorily be completed.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2007 14:00 
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Rigpig wrote:
Surely the best possible solution is to remove the need for a risk assessment at all? Discourage people from eating, phoning etc at the wheel by reminding them that their primary concern is controlling the vehicle. Reduce the number of risk assessments that need to be conducted (working along the base of the triangle again) and you reduce the number that will be screwed up surely? Trying to make people better at conducting an assessment they don't really need to make in the first place is an exercise in Tower of Babel construction - it will never satisfactorily be completed.


But if we don't trust and encourage people to assess and manage risk then how will we [people] ever acquire those skills?

More realistically, we're working on one of those slopes... The more we tell them what to do the less they learn for themselves. I know this is a fairly trivial example, but I believe that the broad principle is absolutely vital.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2007 14:12 
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Some great posts by Rigpig, and I think this explains the way I think a lot better than I could have put it.

Like all things they try to legislate against with regards driver distraction it's not the act itself in isolation that is the issue but a combination of factors of which one is easily identifiable (mobile phone use, eating a sandwich etc).

The problem is not so much the act itself but the context in which the act takes place.

That helps a lot in explaining my original post on this thread. I don't see eating something when driving as a real hazard because in the past I chose (maybe more through luck than judgement) to do so only where I considered it a very minor risk.

I still like a swig of water every now and again, but chose bottled water with those built in "sports" style top as I can pull that open with my teeth and squirt the water into my mouth all with one hand and I don't need to tip my head back.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2007 14:13 
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Sure, you could say why do anything that even carries the risk of being risky if its not absolutely necessary. Why drive to the video store when theres TV at home, you might crash and die? We have to allow people the freedom to do what they want as long as it doesn't pose a disproportionate risk to themselves or others.

We often deride the litigious H&S culture that places protection from the slightest risk above quality of life, but thats exactly what this situation boils down to.

What are we going to end up with? Filing a plan with the central authority before undertaking any journey, having amendments made so that our route, and that of others, doesn't constitute an increase to safety risk, congestion or emissions, constant monitoring along the way to ensure that we never break the speed limit, never follow too closely, never make a phone call and never take a hand off the steering wheel, all vehicles having to be automatic of course.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2007 14:51 
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RobinXe wrote:
Sure, you could say why do anything that even carries the risk of being risky if its not absolutely necessary. Why drive to the video store when theres TV at home, you might crash and die?


I'm sorry Robin but thats a specious argument my friend. The purpose of a car is to get us from one place to another, the process if driving carries an element of risk but is an identifiable activity in its own right. The process of eating, shaving etc are seperate activities not concerned with that of driving and do not have to be done concurrently with that task.

Safespeed wrote:
But if we don't trust and encourage people to assess and manage risk then how will we [people] ever acquire those skills?


We trust and encourage them to manage the risks that are directly concerned with the process of driving, not to introduce more risks and then encourage them to manage those as well.

RobinXe wrote:
We have to allow people the freedom to do what they want as long as it doesn't pose a disproportionate risk to themselves or others.


Agreed in principle. However I believe that the system wide risk posed by extra-curiculla driving activities is disproportionate because they are generally unecessary.

<Edit- removed too emotive>

OK, I've said enough because I fell quite strongly about this issue and could go further but don't wish to at this juncture. What does everyone else think?


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2007 15:16 
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Rigpig wrote:
Safespeed wrote:
But if we don't trust and encourage people to assess and manage risk then how will we [people] ever acquire those skills?


We trust and encourage them to manage the risks that are directly concerned with the process of driving, not to introduce more risks and then encourage them to manage those as well.


That doesn't work does it? Ban car radios? Talking to passengers? Picking your nose? I think you must be imagining some sort of 'threshold' where this sort of rule kicks in.

But the real world is so very variable that any 'straight line' threshold constantly crosses over with real risks. In practice that does mean that there are times when it's dangeous to talk to passengers or whatever.

Rigpig wrote:
OK, I've said enough because I fell quite strongly about this issue and could go further but don't wish to at this juncture. What does everyone else think?


I reckon that's a damn shame, because you're making this into one of the best threads ever. :yesyes:

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2007 15:31 
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Rigpig wrote:
What does everyone else think?


Well, since you ask -

Quite frankly, I'm amazed at the strength of feeling on this subject. The anti-anything-other-than-driving camp sounds like a government stance, were we must reduced everything down to cater for worst-case drivers.

I fail to understand how some don't believe they possess any spare capacity to chew.

How we can promote self risk assessment which enables us to drive at an appropriate speed rather than to the speed limit, and at the same time claim we can't manage additional simple activities like eating, is beyond me.

I wouldn't do it on the bike, though! :)

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2007 15:39 
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I see motorway service areas as risky places,
I balance the option of a small supply of pre-selected items in reach and opened better than the risks of going in to an unfamiliar place with poor layout varying slip roads and signs with other tired and confused drivers.

I might decide that on a non taxing stretch of the road it might be safer to reach for a piece of food rather than join the madness that they call a motorway service area.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2007 19:24 
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short and sweet :twisted:

im a trucker
i smoke whilst driving
i eat whilst driving
i drink whilst driving

the most serious accident was taking a wing mirror off a car with my tail end while going around a sharp corner.

the actions listed are increased during night driving. why? keeps me awake when i cant pull in. miles and miles of motorway in the middle of the night will take their toll on anyone. MSAs are spread far apart and so i do what i can to maintain my relationship with the carriageway which includes smoking, eating and drinking!

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2007 01:01 
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Rigpig wrote:
Robin, my reasoning was that, whilst each crash is a discrete event in its own right as you say, the 'error' links in the chain of events that lead up to it will often have been repeated many, many times over but not co-incidentally in a way that results in disaster.
Thus, if we can eradicate one of those links from that particular chain (by encouraging drivers not to engage in secondary tasks whilst driving) we can help bring accident stats down. Its the old risk triangle thing isn't it? At the top are the crashes, and below it at the base are the multitude of risky behaviours that lead to the crashes occuring. If we tackle the events at the base, no matter how trivial they appear to be, we can effect the number of events that appear at the top.
Isn't this how workplace risk management works? Safety Engineer I'm looking at you for guidance here...


Yes would agree broadly with two caveats, one the assessment is done by a competant person and also there becomes a point of diminshing returns where a trivial risk is so trivial that the control measure is seen and is OTT and then diminishes control measures for real risks (as an example when CoSHH - Control of Substances Hazardous to Health came out people were banning Tip-Ex as it had 1.1.1. Trichloroethelyne - think that's the right spelling but they hadn't bothered to factor in exposure, you would need to drink gallons of the stuff to even have it register in your blood let alone have any health effects, it took about 5 years to people to take CoSHH seroulsy after that).


Rigpig wrote:
Furthemore, we talk a lot about road safety messages in here. Isn't the best message to tell drivers not to engage in a secondary activity not related to driving their car whilst at the wheel? Its clear and unambiguous after all.
However, perhaps with the mobile phone law we risk identifying one behaviour and risk, by omission of absolute identification, drivers believing that its OK to do other things.

Ultimately I belive that this, and the speed limit enforcement debate, boils down to the needs and requirements of the individual versus those of the system. As individuals we all think our little indiscretions, phone calls, sarnie bites etc etc are done in the safest way and we should be left to get on with it. But across the system they add up to a cumulative problem where the process of self-assessment goes wrong.

However, at the end of the day we have to be realsitic as well. There are 30 million drivers in the country and some of them are inevitably going to feel the need to use the phone, eat etc etc, and its how we deal with those events that is important


And there you've hit the nail on the head, in safety circles the idea of 'dynamic risk assessment' is creeping in where rather than me turning up saying here is the risk assessment and expecting those on site to follow it even when it becomes out of date excesive for the current level of risk, I turn up and train them on a. the safety aspects of the task and b. how to carry out a risk assessment. It's part of behavioural safety and because it treats adults like adults and trains them to make informed desicions we get a higher rate of compliance than the old prescriptive levels - 'You will, Will Not do this/that'.

In comparison with driving we have poorly trained staff (drivers) with poor judgement and skills being told 'You Will/Will Not do' and as you say Rigpig where there is no prescriptive drivers default to what they want to do.

Perhaps we should as part of the wider scheme be insisting on better driver standards, rather than dumbing down?

After all when 'Grandfather rights' were scrapped for plant drivers there were plant drivers who couldn't meet the required test standard and as a result lost there jobs, however, it was taken that this was a better route than allowing poorly trained muppets on site.

Should we be looking at raising the bar for new driver training and testing, it will take a generation to see effects.

Sorry digressing again, it's been a long day.

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