Crash dieting: the effects of eating and drinking on driving performance

Mark S. Young, Janina M. Mahfoud, Guy H. Walker, Daniel P. Jenkins, Neville A. Stanton

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    48 Citations (Scopus)


    Previous research suggests that compared to mobile phone use, eating and drinking while driving is more common and is seen as lower risk by drivers. Nevertheless, snacking at the wheel can affect vehicle control to a similar extent as using a hands-free phone, and is actually a causal factor in more crashes. So far, though, there has not been a controlled empirical study of this problem. In an effort to fill this gap in the literature, we used the Brunel University Driving Simulator to test participants on a typical urban scenario. At designated points on the drive, which coincided with instructions to eat or drink, a critical incident was simulated by programming a pedestrian to walk in front of the car. Whilst the driving performance variables measured were relatively unaffected by eating and drinking, perceived driver workload was significantly higher and there were more crashes in the critical incident when compared to driving normally. Despite some methodological limitations of the study, when taken together with previous research, the evidence suggests that the physical demands of eating and drinking while driving can increase the risk of a crash. (c) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)142-148
    Number of pages7
    JournalAccident Analysis and Prevention
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2008


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