Traverse City, MI (Monday, April 29, 2002) - Hagerty Classic Insurance, one of the world's leading insurers of collectible automobiles, began investigating the dangers of driving and eating when it reviewed a recent claim. The driver received a "restraining order" against anything edible within his reach due to numerous accidents related to food. Hagerty then reviewed recent government statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on accidents caused by driver distraction. In a recent analysis of 32,303 drivers nationwide, NHTSA found eating was a bigger distraction than using a hand-held cell phone.
According to NHTSA, there are 185,500,000 licensed drivers in the U.S. and 26 percent of all traffic fatalities among these drivers are caused by driver distraction. The Network of Employers for Traffic Safety also states that distracted drivers cause at least 4,000 - 8,000 accidents per day.
These revelations led to the development of Hagerty's list of the "Ten Most Dangerous Foods To Eat While Driving" to help protect other motorists, passengers and pedestrians, and help reduce vehicle damage caused by inattentiveness behind the wheel. Hagerty's research team then rated common foods eaten in cars according to the degree of distraction, degree of difficulty in eating with only one hand on the wheel, and the food's popularity. They ranked the top 10 foods from bad to worst:
- Chocolate - Whatever you touch - steering wheels, stick shift, clothing or hair - will carry distinctive fingerprints. Drivers' instinctive reactions are to clean the offending candy stains immediately, which distracts them from the road ahead.
- Soft Drinks - Suddenly wearing your soda as you pull out to pass could be a deadly distraction. Open containers holding liquids - hot or cold - can cause a lack of driver concentration when spilled across a shirt or lap.
- Jelly and Cream-Filled Donuts - Imagine the disaster as messy jelly oozes onto drivers' clothes and they become more focused on the spill than the highway.
- Fried chicken - Greasy hands are a sure distraction as drivers tend to constantly try to clean them while driving. Grease on a steering wheel is almost impossible to get off.
- Any Barbecued Food - Barbecue sauce may be delicious, but drivers should remember that "if it can drip, don't eat it while you drive."
- Juicy Hamburgers - The same goes for foods that contain messy or greasy extras. A $5 hamburger deluxe could turn into $500 worth of repairs if dripping condiments, special sauces or greasy meat juices distract the driver.
- Chili - Anything containing chili like a chili dog, sloppy joe or Coney dog. Steering chili-covered foods to your mouth while steering a car around a corner requires more dexterity than humans possess.
- Tacos - Here's a foodstuff that can disassemble itself without much help while being consumed. One good road bump and the seat of your car looks like a salad bar.
- Hot Soups - Eating soup while trying to manipulate a gearshift is not sensible. It's the equivalent to a circus juggling act; a sure recipe for disaster. So what is the most hazardous food drivers can consume? The offender is one of the world's most popular beverages and the one with which most Americans start their mornings:
- Coffee - Uncovered drinks generally are the greatest offenders for unexpected splashes and spills. Nobody wants to look soiled or messy, especially on the way to work, and coffee spills are the worst because drivers invariably try to make instant clean-ups while still driving. In addition, hot coffee is often served at temperatures near scalding, and can cause serious burns that also divert a driver's focus.
Hagerty also learned:
More food-related accidents happen in the morning hours than in the evening because people are concerned about their appearance on the way to work. The odds of having a food-related accident can double if the vehicle has a stick shift since eating, shifting and steering requires increased dexterity and adds one more variable to the equation.
The most hazardous situation combines eating and cellular phone use. When the phone rings, the "driving distraction" increases significantly and in a rush to answer, drivers forget they're driving.
"Our customers drive classics and expensive exotics, most of which don't have accessories like cupholders. If this "distracted driving" issue is a problem for our conscientious drivers, imagine how far-reaching it must be among the general motoring population." says McKeel Hagerty, president of Hagerty Classic Insurance.
"We strongly advise against eating in your car, but if you must, make sure containers have tight-fitting lids and maintain your concentration and don't endanger other drivers! If a mishap occurs, pull to the side before attempting to remedy the situation," he added.
Hagerty Classic Insurance provides inexpensive collector car insurance and protection for antique and vintage autos, modified and custom cars, street rods, sports cars and exotics. The company has been in the insurance business for five decades, in the specialty insurance field for nearly 20 years. As one of the leading insurers of collectible vehicles in the United States, Hagerty provides superior insurance coverage and service to collector car owners. Hagerty's motto, "Be protected not just insured," is supported by many of the company's additional services including car event sponsorships, hobby legislation support and its car protection tips article series. For more information on Hagerty Classic Insurance, call 877-922-9701 or visit www.hagerty.com.
For more information, please contact our Public Relations Department:
Soon Nguyen, Public Relations Director