Driving with one hand is asking for trouble
Posted by Richard Sinclair
After people pass their driving test, many fall into habits that their instructor would have despaired at, from really checking their mirrors to seldom indicating, but it seems one of the most dangerous things motorists do is driving with one hand.
Although there are times when we need to take a hand off the wheel – such as when changing gear – it is prolonged one-handed driving that is putting many drivers, as well as their fellow road users and pedestrians, at risk, a new report commissioned by esure reveals.
The study, carried out by scientists at the University of Leeds using a driving simulator, found that drivers' reaction times increased significantly in situations when they only used one hand to drive, such as when they were eating.
Reaction times increased by 44 per cent when eating behind the wheel, while sipping a drink lengthened the reaction times of the motorist by 22 per cent.
According to the study, if a motorist's reaction time was five seconds on average when driving with two hands on the wheel it would increase to just over seven seconds when eating at the wheel.
In addition, drivers were 18 per cent more likely to experience poorer lane control and be unable to maintain a steady central lane position while drinking behind the wheel.
Professor Samantha Jamson from the University of Leeds said it is "widely accepted" that the distraction of talking on a hand-held mobile phone may increase accident risk – hence the introduction of legislation in the UK – but few people realise that eating and drinking while driving have similar detrimental effect.
"The results we obtained suggest that driving with just one hand on the wheel impacted on the driving behaviour of the participants in this study," she added.
Mike Pickard, head of risk and underwriting at esure, noted that 79 per cent of motorists do not understand the legislation around driving with one hand on the wheel.
"We are appealing for all motorists to take the time to properly plan their car journey before leaving the house. Eat before you step into the car and plan regular breaks at service stations to help fuel any cravings whilst behind the wheel," he stated.