Swinton Insurance

August 17, 2009 19:00 ET

Food and Drink Behind the Wheel Leaves a Bitter Taste in Motorists' Mouth

MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Aug. 18, 2009) - Research conducted by Swinton indicates that as many as 60% of us think nothing of drinking a cup of coffee or picking at the remains of a sandwich whilst behind the wheel.

The research by Swinton, the UK's leading high street retailer of car insurance, found that almost 2% of motorists involved in accidents had their concentration impaired by eating or drinking, even more than were distracted by talking or texting on a mobile phone. Drivers who are eating or drinking are twice as likely to cause an accident as those whose concentration is directed entirely upon the road.

Steve Chelton, Insurer Development manager at Swinton said: "Swinton reminds motorists that driving whilst distracted is against the law and might not only increase your chance of an accident but could also affect your car insurance claims. Eating or drinking whilst driving may seem tempting, especially if having a hectic morning but the risk of causing an accident or being spotted by the police means it really isn't worth it."

The five most dangerous items to consume, Swinton discovered, were:

1) Hot coffee: Predominantly drank in the morning by professionals on their way to work, coffee, like any hot beverage, not only puts the motorist at risk of spills but also of scalding.

2) Wrapped Sweets: The concentration and dexterity required to open a sweet whilst driving is high and will usually require at least one hand off the wheel and grappling after a dropped sweet whilst driving is very dangerous.

3) Greasy Food: Liable to leave greasy marks over the wheel which the driver may attempt to wipe clean. The grease also makes the wheel slippery and harder to handle.

4) Chocolate: Chocolate can stick to fingers and hands, a distraction in itself, as well as leaving similar marks as greasy food-stuffs.

5) Fizzy Drinks: The risks of spills aside the action of tipping your head to drink can force you to take your eyes off the road at a crucial time. Additionally the carbonated soda can cause a distracting fizz when opened and, if gulped, can cause hiccoughs.

The police have power to issue fixed penalty notices for anything they deem as contributing towards careless driving which includes eating or drinking. If the notice is offered and accepted the offender will have to pay a fine of Pounds Sterling 60 and receive three points on their licence. Swinton advises all motorists to maintain a high level of concentration at all times whilst driving and to avoid any activity that may cause their attention to detract from the road.

About Swinton

- With 580 branches nationwide Swinton is the UK's largest high street insurance retailer

- Unlike many other companies in the financial services industry, Swinton is committed to keeping its branches open for business, and part of the community

- Swinton.co.uk provides a one-stop-shop for the insurance and related needs of its clients, offering home, car, caravan, business, holiday, motorbike and even classic car insurance

- With a dedicated team of advisors on hand at every branch to search a panel of insurers to offer quality cover at competitive rates

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