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Lunch On the Go!

Q. We are reviewing our fleet safety program and we realize Distracted Driving is a hot topic, as it should be. Our question is about “eating lunch on the go.” Many of our sales people and technicians tell us they just do not have the time to stop and eat lunch… if they are not moving, they have the feeling they are losing ground.

Our new fleet safety policy will address this issue under Distracted Driving…and it will state that the policy does not allow for eating while driving.

Now, we are already being challenged with “what is eating and driving;” is it a donut and coffee, is it a bottle of water and a candy bar? People are taking a simple policy and blowing it up…any suggestions on how to address these “not so flagrant fouls?”

Sandy J.
Safety Manager

A. Thanks for the question this month Sandy.

The old “Dashboard Diner;” we certainly agree with you that eating and driving is dangerous, especially those large bacon, triple burger, fully loaded sandwiches! While you may get resistance regarding a change to your “dining in” policy, let’s first understand what the risk level is related to this form of distraction.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that eating and driving increases the likelihood of crashes by 80 percent. Additionally, 65 percent of near-miss crashes are caused by distracted drivers who are eating or drinking while driving. So whether it’s a donut or a sandwich, the risk level is still increased significantly. This statistic alone should let you know you are on the right track related to this policy change.

One more point I would like you to consider. Let’s look at the definition of distracted driving.

Per National Highway Transportation Safety Administration…
Distracted Driving:

“Distraction occurs any time you take your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, and your mind off your primary task: driving safely. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of crashing.”

I believe that by adding the NHTSA definition to your fleet safety policy, you can provide clear direction as to what is acceptable and what isn’t acceptable behind the wheel, specifically when answering questions concerning distractions, and in this specific example…eating.

Remember, each and every time that the driver has a “eureka” moment, when the “light bulb goes on” and they realize their activity behind the wheel is putting themselves, passengers, other motorists and pedestrians at risk, everyone wins!

Your task is to lead them to that moment of risk recognition!

This question was answered by:

Ben Langley is the Safety Editor for “The Driver Advantage™”. Ben is a passionate proponent for driver safety education, training and awareness. Continuously submerged in research targeting human behavior and driver safety; Ben initiates creative thinking that is evident in his writings. Ben also develops unique, exciting and results oriented driver safety programs and campaigns. His knowledge and common sense approach to driver safety is wrapped with authentic concern for people. Ben is also the co-found of Safety Wins, Inc. a 501©(3) non-profit organization. The Safety Wins concept of training fleet drivers at NASCAR Race Tracks throughout America was federally and privately funded. Today, Safety Wins, Inc focuses on Teen Driver Safety and continues to use the platform of motorsports to attract attention to their life saving driver safety message. Contact the author

- has written 46 posts on Driving Dynamics.

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