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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: Tue Mar 13, 2007 01:48 
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SafeSpeed wrote:
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.

I have an interest in this process of aquiring skills.
I have two sons, one of whom has slight learning difficulties.
therefore their learning is entirely different from each other.
Clearly we have a difficulty which is identified, and when he is older, disadvantaged son will learn to judge when he is challenged and needs more time or help with a task.
HOWEVER, many road users seem to have a difficulty grasping basic priciples of driving, and seem to be wholly unaware of their problem.

Yesterday (Sunday) I was car 3 of a line of cars which pulled off the A591, drove through Staveley, and turned into the Mill Yard.
So far, so good.
However, for some reason, car 1 was the only one NOT to o see the turn left sign, or the Ahead for HGV's only sign, and so continued straight ahead, while car 2 and myself drove around the one way system.
As I met the main lane again, car 1 was turning left, into oncoming one way traffic, while looking RIGHT at some building work.

Clearly, his driving went awry when he turned into the yard, slowed right down, and assumed it was OK to look around the yard instead of where he was going.

Given the cycle shop allows customers - often children to test the bikes around the yard, it is NOT safe to give up any amount of attention - indeed there are several low speed collisions every year - any one of which COULD prove serious to a child on a bike, who is likewise riding while not necessarily paying attention.
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But if we don't trust and encourage people to assess and manage risk then how will we [people] ever acquire those skills?


The answer is some drivers will never learn, while others will EVENTUALLY take it all in.
A staged driving test like the motorcycle route would help to weed out the inept from the downright dangerous!

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 00:40 
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Rigpig wrote:
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.

I basically agree with you here. There are a whole range of actions when driving that are potentially distracting, but where the responsible driver will manage the risk and, if they need to be done at all, will do them where the risk is least.

You can't pass a law against all sorts of things on the grounds that at times they may be distracting - but if you routinely eat sandwiches or whatever while driving, eventually you'll do it when your attention really needs to be devoted to the road and come a cropper.

I think a distinction can be drawn between activities that are very brief, such as changing the station on the radio or popping a sweet in your mouth, and those which are likely to take some time, such as say eating an apple or a Mars Bar. Activities of that kind should be strongly discouraged in driver education.

And, I'm sorry, but if you're routinely doing that kind of thing when driving, it is to my mind indicative of a poor attitude and also poor time management. If you can't stop for 15 minutes to eat, you're trying to cram too much in.

You wouldn't try to eat a sandwich on a DSA or Advanced test, would you?

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 01:31 
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Very good posts by RobinXe, I agree wholeheartedly.

I am averse to system-wide banning of things in the name of "the greater good" where the differences in real risk are so dependent upon individual circumstances... and where that risk is actually carried almost entirely by only a tiny minority of the people affected by the ban.

There has to be some proportion in all this. I'm sure that for a very small minority, the operation of an in-car music system can be a great risk, and has even on occasion caused accidents.

So why not just ban these unnecessary distractions?

Question: do we trust drivers to act responsibly, or not?
Do we trust that they will not try to change stations while hazard density makes it a dangerous act?


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 01:35 
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I remember once coming back from a clients, only after I started driving did I remember that I hadn't actually eaten anything for a long time. So rather than trying to finds somewhere to stop (which is always a challenge in this country, and I really couldn't be bothered driving around roads I didn't know hoping to find somewhere to stop when I knew there probably wouldn't be anywhere) I decided to have my lunch, which happened to be next to me. This of course helped me wake up a bit.

Of course this was all educational too. If I've never tried eating while driving how do I know how hard it is? How do I know if it's possible? Unwrapping a chocolate bar one-handed really isn't easy.
Of course the traffic was quite light and it was on a motorway/dual carriageway so I had spare time to do such experiments.

Another time I reached into the back, pulled down the rear seat and got my lunch from the boot and ate it all while driving. I say "while driving" because I'm sure the engine was on for most of it. So legally I was driving. This was of course sat in a traffic jam on the M27, occasionally moving forwards a short way. Nice picnic, that.

And I'm sure I'd do it again. I don't think about food when I'm busy. So when I get in the car and head off is often the first time I might realise that I'm hungry. It's better to eat and have the extra energy than to go on without eating. And as I said before, there is usually nowhere to stop.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 01:39 
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supertramp wrote:
Question: do we trust drivers to act responsibly, or not?
Do we trust that they will not try to change stations while hazard density makes it a dangerous act?


We have to trust drivers, of course, because there will never be a cop in every car.

So I reckon we might as well make the most of it.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 01:45 
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Ziltro wrote:
And I'm sure I'd do it again. I don't think about food when I'm busy. So when I get in the car and head off is often the first time I might realise that I'm hungry.

Do you suddenly realise you need a piss as well when you get in the car, then?

Ziltro wrote:
It's better to eat and have the extra energy than to go on without eating. And as I said before, there is usually nowhere to stop.

I would agree that there are too few recognised stopping places, but that is a gross exaggeration. How many places are there on the UK road network where there isn't either a motorway service area, a layby, or an obvious roadside parking spot (such as in a village) within twenty minutes' drive?

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 01:48 
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SafeSpeed wrote:
supertramp wrote:
Question: do we trust drivers to act responsibly, or not?
Do we trust that they will not try to change stations while hazard density makes it a dangerous act?

We have to trust drivers, of course, because there will never be a cop in every car.

Yes, but drivers need to be given strong guidelines as to what constitutes responsible behaviour.

There is a world of difference between "eating a sandwich at the wheel should not be made a specific offence" and "eating a sandwich at the wheel is generally acceptable".

I fear a lot of hostages to fortune are being given on this thread.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 01:59 
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PeterE wrote:
SafeSpeed wrote:
supertramp wrote:
Question: do we trust drivers to act responsibly, or not?
Do we trust that they will not try to change stations while hazard density makes it a dangerous act?

We have to trust drivers, of course, because there will never be a cop in every car.

Yes, but drivers need to be given strong guidelines as to what constitutes responsible behaviour.


The trouble is if we give them 'strong guidelines' which are unbelieveable then we have actually given them less, not more.

I believe that working on giving drivers a sense of responsibility is optimum in this broad area.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 02:00 
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PeterE wrote:
Ziltro wrote:
And I'm sure I'd do it again. I don't think about food when I'm busy. So when I get in the car and head off is often the first time I might realise that I'm hungry.

Do you suddenly realise you need a piss as well when you get in the car, then?

Nup. I just seem to suppress hunger when I'm doing other things. It really can take me a while to realise I'm hungry sometimes.

PeterE wrote:
Ziltro wrote:
It's better to eat and have the extra energy than to go on without eating. And as I said before, there is usually nowhere to stop.

I would agree that there are too few recognised stopping places, but that is a gross exaggeration. How many places are there on the UK road network where there isn't either a motorway service area, a layby, or an obvious roadside parking spot (such as in a village) within twenty minutes' drive?

There may have been, but that would have required thinking.

Actually I'm remembering more of the time now, after eating some things I did turn off the road and I found some wide driveway to stop in the end of. Then I noticed police cars nearby and I didn't want the hassle of talking to them so I drove on until I got to the next motorway services. Which was a long way, because all the ones on the signs were just after a turning I didn't want. And I really didn't want to go the wrong way on that motorway again because I did it on the way there and it took me about 5-10 minutes just to turn around.

I really wanted to stop, but at the time that would have been more of a mental distraction than eating on the go.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 02:05 
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SafeSpeed wrote:
PeterE wrote:
SafeSpeed wrote:
supertramp wrote:
Question: do we trust drivers to act responsibly, or not?
Do we trust that they will not try to change stations while hazard density makes it a dangerous act?

We have to trust drivers, of course, because there will never be a cop in every car.

Yes, but drivers need to be given strong guidelines as to what constitutes responsible behaviour.

The trouble is if we give them 'strong guidelines' which are unbelieveable then we have actually given them less, not more.

Yes, wholly agreed, guidelines need to be credible, and need to recognise that drivers are human beings, not angels. But there still need to be guidelines. Too many people nowadays say "but nobody told me I shouldn't do that". And many also believe that they can handle activities that others struggle with.

SafeSpeed wrote:
I believe that working on giving drivers a sense of responsibility is optimum in this broad area.

Yes, but there is nothing wrong with giving examples of the types of potentially distracting behaviour that may be unwise when driving.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 02:35 
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PeterE wrote:
[...] But there still need to be guidelines. Too many people nowadays say "but nobody told me I shouldn't do that".


I suspect that that's mostly an excuse offered after the event.

(And whenit isn't, it's probably our (society's) fault for not 'crystalising' our messages properly. For example 'driving requires continuous concentration' is so much better than a great list of 'don'ts'.)

PeterE wrote:
And many also believe that they can handle activities that others struggle with.


True, but there's slippery slope into a great pile of 'lowest common denominator' if we worry too much about that.

PeterE wrote:
SafeSpeed wrote:
I believe that working on giving drivers a sense of responsibility is optimum in this broad area.

Yes, but there is nothing wrong with giving examples of the types of potentially distracting behaviour that may be unwise when driving.


Yes. There has to be a proper balance between 'rules' and 'trust'. I'm quite sure that the authorities are biased towards 'rules' to a degree which is actually dangerous. The need to provide something of a counterbalance pushes us further towards 'trust' than our true (or 'natural'?) position.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 10:22 
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I've regularly eaten all sorts of snacks whilst driving and never really thought of it as a problem. As others have said above you manage risk and do such activities at a time when your driving workload is relatively light. If you aren't capable of making that judgement with an acceptable degree of common sense then I would say that the problem is not the sandwich but your whole approach and attitude to the driving process.

So whilst I wouldn't try and put forward any sort of rock solid justification in favour of doing so; at the same time I'd find it very hard to come up with any real reason against it - certainly not one strong enough to require yet another restrictive law that distracts us from real road safety issues.

When I'm out and about I see people drifting all over the road from time to time due to being distracted. Variously they are being distracted by phones, by eating, by reading road maps, by talking to passengers and (perhaps the most frequent of all) by attending to children in the back of the car. My take on this is that the problem throughout all of this is the lack of an ability to manage ones attention properly, not each individual activity.

So the real road safety message we need to get across is something like "Look for the times when you need to pay ALL your attention to the road and do so", or words to that effect. Problem is that it isn't as snappy and simplistic as "don't phone and drive" or "don't eat and drive"; and also it requires judgement to enforce rather than prescriptive laws. The only true answer is better training, training in the mental process of driving rather than the physical one.

If we go the way of specifically banning eating, then it is a perfectly logical progression to also ban speaking to passengers, having a map in the car, carrying children without having a second adult to manage them etc etc. We're already on that slippery slope with the mobile phone law.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 13:42 
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I'm no psychologist, but I believe that "risk management" is a skill everyone possesses (to varying degrees), and is not exclusive to driving.

In fact, I believe it is a natural instinct.

If we never drove, we would still use it in a basic form every day.
Picture a couple watching the news on TV, having a chat and eating a sandwich.
They could happily manage all 3 activities - until the footie results come on. The guy is likely to sit up, stop eating and politely ask his wife to stop talking. Something now demands his full attention.
I believe he would behave in a similar manner on the road when attention was needed.

The only thing that would work against this instinct is the perception of the danger. If anything, we are all de-sensitised to the very real danger of death on the road.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 14:43 
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PeterE wrote:
There is a world of difference between "eating a sandwich at the wheel should not be made a specific offence" and "eating a sandwich at the wheel is generally acceptable".

To my mind, there is already a law capable of being enforced in this scenario. It's the DWDCA law.

I regularly eat when I'm driving, but only when it is safe to do so.
I regularly use my phone when I'm driving, but only when it is safe to do so.
I regularly have a fag when I'm driving, but only when it is safe to do so.
I regularly <fill in activity here> when I'm driving, but only when it is safe to do so.

Creating more and ever more laws gradually dumbs-down drivers.

Drivers need up-skilling, not dumbing down.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 14:55 
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Grumpy Old Biker wrote:
I believe he would behave in a similar manner on the road when attention was needed.

except that on the road he may not have the luxury of time to "sit up".

Can anyone on here claim that they've never had to make a split-second, react or die decision on the road? Unfortunately they're both completely out of your control (ie nothing there is nothing you could have done to avoid the encounter other than not being there at the time) and totally unexpected. If you're "lying on the sofa" rather than "sitting up" when it happens then sorry, but you'll become the next statistic.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 15:01 
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johnsher wrote:
[...]If you're "lying on the sofa" rather than "sitting up" when it happens then sorry, but you'll become the next statistic.

Then you're "lying on the sofa" when it's not safe to...

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 15:26 
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johnsher wrote:
........except that on the road he may not have the luxury of time to "sit up".


Well, "sit up" figuratively speaking.

You must know that feeling when full attention is demanded - eyes widen, slight tensing of the shoulders, head moves forward. And I can't imagine any situation when there's not time for that instintive reaction.

"Lying on the sofa" in my example, is a relaxed position - just as it should be when driving / riding.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 15:51 
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johnsher wrote:
Can anyone on here claim that they've never had to make a split-second, react or die decision on the road?


If it goes wrong to the extent that you're depending on reaction time and the ability to emergency brake, the outcome is more or less a matter of luck. That's not to suggest that we shouldn't be ready for emergencies - we should. But with good management emergencies are rare, yet with bad management emergencies are commonplace.

I'm trying to say that normal crash development is much more a matter of bad management than it is a matter of failing to react in last few tenths of a second.

The 'what if's' that come up in these discussions are usually rather contrived to prove a weak point.

Young drivers often think it's about reaction time. Older drivers know it's all about anticipation.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 16:07 
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BottyBurp wrote:
johnsher wrote:
[...]If you're "lying on the sofa" rather than "sitting up" when it happens then sorry, but you'll become the next statistic.

Then you're "lying on the sofa" when it's not safe to...

yes, and my point was that you just don't know that it's not safe.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 16:15 
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SafeSpeed wrote:
The 'what if's' that come up in these discussions are usually rather contrived to prove a weak point.

maybe so, but as the saying goes, shit happens. How many of our road statistics are the results of those so called contrived "what if's"?

I've had three major incidents in my driving career. No doubt you'd dismiss them as just "what-ifs":
- what if a car missed its braking point on a left junction that you're about to pass at 50mph and shot halfway into your lane?
- what if a driver heading towards you on the (30mph) bridge decides that the driver in front of him is a bit slow and he's going to overtake regardless of your presence?
- what if that truck on your right decides to move into your lane without looking?


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