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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: Wed Mar 14, 2007 18:39 
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I wasn't trying to discuss the specifics of your driving with you mate, simply show that there is a mindset with which to approach driving which makes taking drastic action to avoid an accident almost never necessary.

johnsher wrote:
RobinXe wrote:
The real point is that if these "what ifs", or any others, had a chance of occurring then its not the time or place to be taking a bite of your butty.

well, they all happened.


I have no doubt they did, but the situations when they are likely to are not those in which to be taking a bite of your butty!!

johnsher wrote:
RobinXe wrote:
There are, however, plenty of situations where the hazard density is low, and ancilliary tasks at the wheel pose no threat to safety.

tell that to the people who've been wiped out by vehicles crashing through the central reservation on motorways.


Are you seriously suggesting that someone eating on a deserted motorway is in real risk of losing control of their vehicle and ploughing through the central reservation, or are you suggesting that if someone was to plough through the central reservation on a deserted motorway that someone eating at the wheel couldn't do anything to avoid them through virtue of their eating?


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 19:24 
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RobinXe wrote:
simply show that there is a mindset with which to approach driving which makes taking drastic action to avoid an accident almost never necessary.

yes (and I hope I'm driving that way) but it only takes one event, doesn't it?


RobinXe wrote:
if someone was to plough through the central reservation on a deserted motorway that someone eating at the wheel couldn't do anything to avoid them through virtue of their eating?

are you suggesting that it wouldn't slow down and/or hinder their reactions?

(and in case you think that people don't crash through central reservations then look here)


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 19:56 
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johnsher wrote:
RobinXe wrote:
simply show that there is a mindset with which to approach driving which makes taking drastic action to avoid an accident almost never necessary.

yes (and I hope I'm driving that way) but it only takes one event, doesn't it?


No, no it doesn't, not at all, thats the point of the incident 'chain'. It takes a number of events, all lining up like the holes in slices of Swiss cheese, to allow an incident to 'slip through'. By removing even one link in the chain, by action or anticipation of the actions of others, the chain is broken, and the incident does not occur.

johnsher wrote:
RobinXe wrote:
if someone was to plough through the central reservation on a deserted motorway that someone eating at the wheel couldn't do anything to avoid them through virtue of their eating?

are you suggesting that it wouldn't slow down and/or hinder their reactions?

(and in case you think that people don't crash through central reservations then look here)


I am quite sure that lorries (and probably lorries alone) are capable of breaching the central barrier, but falling asleep is hardly the same as taking a bite of a sarnie is it! My point was that there are situations where the circumstances on the road are such that eating does not increase the risk of an incident. I find it hard to believe that nibbling on a sangar at the wheel would result in such a drastic swerve as to put the vehicle anywhere near the central barrier, let alone through it. The statistics seemingly back me up, unless you have tracts of evidence of lorry drivers spearing off course into the other carriageway whilst indulging in a Ginsters?


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 20:01 
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Incidentally, the 'Swiss Chesse' model of accident causation was not dreamt up by me on the spur of posting. It is a well established model, put forward by eminent psychologist James T. Reason (very apt name) in 1990, and is widely in use in aviation circles.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 21:04 
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JT wrote:
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.

Exactly, well said JT. We should be worried about the mindset here, slippery slopes and all that.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 21:07 
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SafeSpeed wrote:
Young drivers often think it's about reaction time. Older drivers know it's all about anticipation.

No particular context on my part here, I just wanted to recognise the cleverness and brilliance of this nugget ... ok then, in the context of road safety.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 21:10 
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RobinXe wrote:
I find it hard to believe that nibbling on a sangar at the wheel would result in such a drastic swerve as to put the vehicle anywhere near the central barrier, let alone through it.

I think you're losing the plot somewhat... I mean seriously, how does an entire page about whether someone can take evasive action because of what they're doing suddenly turn into driving through a central reservation?


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 21:33 
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johnsher wrote:
RobinXe wrote:
I find it hard to believe that nibbling on a sangar at the wheel would result in such a drastic swerve as to put the vehicle anywhere near the central barrier, let alone through it.

I think you're losing the plot somewhat... I mean seriously, how does an entire page about whether someone can take evasive action because of what they're doing suddenly turn into driving through a central reservation?


Mate, thats a bit off! Certainly uncalled for! You appear to have missed the point completely and resorted to accusing me of insanity!

I was quite clear that I don't think discussing specifics about anyone's driving will get to the crux of this matter. The point is that there are circumstances when devoting a small portion of a driver's capacity to a task other than driving will not detract from that dedicated to the driving task itself. If anything is to be criminalised it should be failing to identify these situations and restrict non-driving activities to them, not the (potentially safe) activities themselves!

It was you who latched on to the central reservation violation potential. I have maintained my standpoint that taking a bite/sip/drag in many situations is perfectly safe because the chances of being required to take evasive action are so remote they are effectively nil.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 22:05 
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Like the majority of threads that carry strong feelings in this forum, I feel we have debated ourselves to a near standstill with nobody showing the slightest inclination of changing their POV :lol:

However, as my parting shot on the subject i'd like to address this comment. The reason I broke off before is because there is an emotive element to it, and try as hard as we can we cannot keep emotion out of it just because we don't like the sentiment.

RobinXe wrote:
I have maintained my standpoint that taking a bite/sip/drag in many situations is perfectly safe because the chances of being required to take evasive action are so remote they are effectively nil.


They may effectively be nil Robin, but they can never be nil. I am quite happy to accept that your judgement is better than most, I'd actually be amazed if it wasn't bearing in mind your profession, but there will be many who come nowhere near your mark and its those I'm worried about. But I do believe that the rules have to apply to everyone equally, irrespective of how much 'above the average' we all perceive ourselves to be.
Killing another human being on the road is a real waste of a life, its even more so when the guilty individual is culpable of some conscious act (such as eating, shaving, tuning the radio, fumbling on the passenger seat etc etc) which took up some of their attention or ability to control their vehicle. It is tragic because such things are totally unecessary, if people put as much effort in to their personal planning as they do making up feeble excuses (and theres a couple of doozies in this thread) they wouldn't need to be grabbing for a swiss roll (or whatever) when they are supposed to be in control of a ton and a half of fast moving machinery. Even if only one person were killed on the road per year due to drivers chowing down at the wheel, if that person were my wife on her way to work minding her own business, I'd hunt down the bastard that did it and kill them myself. Thats how strongly I feel.

I am not saying that we need to make up a specific offence for eating at the wheel or any other similar act. But I do believe that the core message should be 'your overriding responsibility is to be in control of you vehicle at all times'. We aren't going to stop people from fiddling with car radios, adjusting sat navs, nibbling on a Snickers or whatever but if the police see them pre-occupied with something else other than the prime controls of their car then they are ripe for the pulling regardless of whether they appear to be in control at the time or not. Beacuse they may just vanish round the corner and crash.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 22:44 
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Rigpig wrote:
I am not saying that we need to make up a specific offence for eating at the wheel or any other similar act. But I do believe that the core message should be 'your overriding responsibility is to be in control of you vehicle at all times'. We aren't going to stop people from fiddling with car radios, adjusting sat navs, nibbling on a Snickers or whatever but if the police see them pre-occupied with something else other than the prime controls of their car then they are ripe for the pulling regardless of whether they appear to be in control at the time or not. Beacuse they may just vanish round the corner and crash.


Then I believe we are 99% in agreeance old boy!

The only point remaining to moot is what constitutes being in control of one's vehicle. On that, for enforcement purposes at least, the balance of probabilities must surely be observed. If the police clock someone glancing at their passenger on an open road, then I would suggest that a charge is not warranted. I would hope that they apply similar consideration of circumstances and level of 'distraction' in all such cases.

Heaven forbid that your wife, or anyone for that matter, fall foul of an inattentive driver. Equally though, would you wish her to be hounded by the CPS merely for rearranging her hair with one hand on a clear road, perhaps, more pertinently, for pulling out from a junction, with no traffic approaching, without conducting, in the officer's opinion, a proper scan of the road? The point remains that many things, which can be observed, could constitute a hazard under certain circumstances, whilst under others they may be perfectly safe!


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 23:16 
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RobinXe wrote:
It was you who latched on to the central reservation violation potential.

yes in order to point out that while you may think it's perfectly safe to be eating a 3 course meal on the motorway SOMEBODY ELSE may do something completely unexpected that requires you to take evasive action.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 23:31 
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johnsher wrote:
RobinXe wrote:
It was you who latched on to the central reservation violation potential.

yes in order to point out that while you may think it's perfectly safe to be eating a 3 course meal on the motorway SOMEBODY ELSE may do something completely unexpected that requires you to take evasive action.


At times when that outcome is a possibility one should not be eating at the wheel! Please do try to understand!


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 23:37 
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RobinXe wrote:
At times when that outcome is a possibility one should not be eating at the wheel! Please do try to understand!

No, I don't understand. How exactly can you tell when something like that is going to happen? If you can't then how can you go on to claim that it's safe to be eating while driving?


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 00:00 
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You cannot tell for sure, any more than you can tell me that all human life on the planet won't be destroyed by an alien death ray the next time I hop in my car!

Driving is all about risk management: the fact that you MOT and service your car doesn't mean the wheels might not fall off at speed, the fact that you drive safely doesn't mean that something untoward might not happen even if you have both hands on the wheel and your nose pressed to the windscreen. If we were worried about everything that could happen we would never get in the car, but nor would we get out of bed or leave the house, the world is a scary place!!

Fortunately many of these risks can either be mitigated as worthy for the potential return, or are of so little probability that they are hardly worth considering, being struck on the head by falling space debris for example, I certainly don't wear a helment if I'm not on the bike or going flying!

As mentioned earlier, driving does not take all of our capacity, if it did it would be unsustainable for long periods. There are certainly periods where sufficient spare capacity exists to conduct other tasks at the wheel without becoming a danger. I presume, since you haven't yet challenged this point, that on this we can agree.

It seems that the fulcrum of your argument rests upon this concept that eating at the wheel distracts the driver to such a degree that they cannot react with sufficient alacrity to emergent situations. Whilst this may be the case, the risk can be mitigated in situations where emergent situations are so unlikely that they are relegated to space-junk probability. Furthermore, assuming that most people are capable of finding their mouth with their hand without looking (I am, I suppose most people are, are you?) the risk is reduced only to those emergent situations where only one hand on the wheel is insufficient. Again I make assumptions; that most people are still capable of using both their feet, their other hand, their eyes and their brain whilst holding a sandwich, I may be mistaken, but I seriously doubt it!


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 12:07 
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RobinXe wrote:
The only point remaining to moot is what constitutes being in control of one's vehicle.


Until we have the ability to read peoples minds to know exactly what they are thinking (no flippancy intended) we only have metrics and proxys by which to assess the level of control a driver has or appears to have over their vehicle.
Therefore the only option we have is to leave it to the police to decide whether an individual is engaged in a reasonable momentary activity such as flicking some hair out of their eyes, or is carrying out some more prolonged task such as eating or making notes on a piece of paper. The police need to be able to make an assessment on the drivers control and attitude towards the task. Here of course we will disagree again; I believe that a willingess to engage in a secondary activity whilst driving demonstrates a poor attitude and I'm sure you don't :)

RobinXe wrote:
It seems that the fulcrum of your argument rests upon this concept that eating at the wheel distracts the driver to such a degree that they cannot react with sufficient alacrity to emergent situations.


To me it rests on the concept that if there are enough people doing it (it being eating, phoning, shaving etc etc) someone who is operating near the cusp of their capabilities will screw up. Even if that screw up involves damage to another car, my car for example, I don't honestly see why I should have to go through the inconvenience involved in sorting out the insurance claim just because someone else couldn't plan their time properly so as to ensure they were fed and abluted before setting out on their journey.
The fact that some actually will have the capability to do these task safely (rather than merely thinking they do - many will fall into this category) is, for them at worst unfortunate, inconvenient and perhaps irritating but hardly the end of the world. But as a society the rules should apply to all.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 12:38 
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Rigpig wrote:
Until we have the ability to read peoples minds to know exactly what they are thinking (no flippancy intended) we only have metrics and proxys by which to assess the level of control a driver has or appears to have over their vehicle.


Do you really think that?

When I drive around, I'm constantly making assessments and predictions about other drivers' state of control. Often I know in just 5 seconds of observation if another vehicle is likely to be unpredictable.

So I fail to see the need for poxies and metrics because any half-decent traffic officer can see 'the real deal' a mile off.

As far as messages go, I think things like: 'You're responsible' and 'driving requires concentration' go a million miles further than 'don't eat a sandwich'.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 13:46 
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Rigpig wrote:
Here of course we will disagree again; I believe that a willingess to engage in a secondary activity whilst driving demonstrates a poor attitude and I'm sure you don't :)

To me it rests on the concept that if there are enough people doing it (it being eating, phoning, shaving etc etc) someone who is operating near the cusp of their capabilities will screw up.

Yes, absolutely. And the point is not that all these activities should be specifically outlawed, but that it should be made crystal clear in driver education that they are things that a good, responsible driver does not do.

SafeSpeed wrote:
As far as messages go, I think things like: 'You're responsible' and 'driving requires concentration' go a million miles further than 'don't eat a sandwich'.

Yes, but messages can become too vague and nebulous and specific examples are always helpful. I really don't see the problem with telling people that responsible driving involves both minimising the need to engage in secondary activities while at the wheel and if they really are important to minimise the risk involved by choosing the time to do them.

Hell, IAM associates are even advised to avoid changing gear when passing a junction!

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 13:49 
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SafeSpeed wrote:
When I drive around, I'm constantly making assessments and predictions about other drivers' state of control. Often I know in just 5 seconds of observation if another vehicle is likely to be unpredictable.


But you are only concerned with what another driver is doing whilst they are in your immediate proximity, i.e. where their behaviour can affect you directly. A police officer has to make an assessment based upon what he sees the driver doing and determine, not only whether that person appears to be in control at that moment in time, but also whether their behaviour has the potential to cause a problem around the next corner. And of course drivers change their behaviour when they see a police car, the police officer may just see a dictaphone ebing hastily chucked to one side.

SafeSpeed wrote:
As far as messages go, I think things like: 'You're responsible' and 'driving requires concentration' go a million miles further than 'don't eat a sandwich'.


Which is partially why I've repeatedly said that the message should not or could not be 'don't eat a sandwhich' or anything else that specific because some fuckwit will assume that exclusion of another activity (painting a copy of the Mona Lisa) means its OK to do it.
The message should be, "driving requires concentration, make driving you car your first priority". A sub message would explain that engaging in some other actvity compromises ones ability to achieve that task leaves you liable to prosecution.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 13:49 
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Rigpig wrote:
Therefore the only option we have is to leave it to the police to decide


This is exactly my point. The police are able to make a decision based on more than a binary 'are they/aren't they doing x?' We don't need laws, no doubt soon to be enforced by civvies, that prohibit particular activities when existing legislation acts, quite sufficiently, as a catch-all.

We may see additional tasks as unnecessary, but how much in life is, and how many calculated risks are we willing to take to conduct such tasks to improve our quality of life. Of course you'd be miffed is someone hit your car whilst undertaking an ancilliary task, but what if that ancilliary task was the very act of driving? People taking short journeys, who could have planned their time better and walked, statistically increase the risk to you on the road merely by their presence. Flying carries a risk, so why take holidays? They're hardly a necessity!

We should not focus our efforts on prohibiting activities that might be risky, everything is! Unfortunately this is the way H&S and a litigious socialogical paradigm has shifted things. We should be focussing on prohibiting activities that actually are dangerous. The rules, whomsoever they apply to, should be for the real benefit of society; not some intuative gutshot that some politician thinks might improve road safety.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 14:03 
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RobinXe wrote:
We may see additional tasks as unnecessary, but how much in life is, and how many calculated risks are we willing to take to conduct such tasks to improve our quality of life. Of course you'd be miffed is someone hit your car whilst undertaking an ancilliary task, but what if that ancilliary task was the very act of driving? People taking short journeys, who could have planned their time better and walked, statistically increase the risk to you on the road merely by their presence. Flying carries a risk, so why take holidays? They're hardly a necessity!


I'm sorry Robin, but again you are postulating a specious argument. We know we undertake tasks that carry inherent risks, driving, flying, crossing the road etc. So there is no need to add to the risk by doing something extra, it is totally unecessary.
Sure, if someone hit my car by dint of some error of judgement I'd be pretty miffed but have to accept it. I'd be even more miffed if the last thing I saw when I glanced in my mirror before being rear-ended was some prat flinging a burger aside as he/she tried to avoid a collision.

Whilst we agree that the police should be left to make the judgement, I'm more than happy to see someone pulling a razor over their faced prosectuted even though they appeared to still be in control of the vehicle at the time. Its their poor attitude thats being slammed IMHO, not just the act itself.


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