An opportunity has arisen at work recently for me possibly take a tiny tiny tiny step up the career ladder. There is a job which has a little more responsibility than my current job and so I can perceive it as upward progression. There are some pros to this job, but unfortunately I can see many cons, not least of which is that it is an hour’s drive away from home and so would require two hours commuting every day, if the traffic was always optimal.
I suggested to one of my colleagues that if I had to drive for an hour at the end of every long working day I could almost guarantee that I would gain weight because I would end up buying snacks at petrol stations to keep me going. I know that snacks at petrol stations aren’t the only method of ‘keeping me going’, but I reckon they are the method I would choose. And because I would probably have to fill up on petrol at least once a week, that’s more lurking amongst the snack aisles in petrol stations than I currently do.
My colleague then described to me how on long journeys before going on to the motorway she would pre-emptively open all food packaging and array it on the passenger seat in such a way that it would be easily accessed and not require opening whilst driving at high speed. This is obviously a good thing because the opening of packaging is probably the thing which most causes deviation from the ‘due care and attention’ thing. And it is something that I also would do in the past to assist in the maintenance of calorie intake whilst sitting on my arse, driving.
There were, in my experience, two other things most likely to affect driving whilst attempting to consume food or drink whilst driving.
Firstly, there is the drinking of fizzy drinks. Fizzy drinks should not be available for drivers. There is a disappointing level of statistics available online about how many accidents are caused by people opening bottles of, just as an example, Diet Coke while driving. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but fizzy drinks often fizz up when opened after agitation. Driving along a road is a form of agitation – it helps babies sleep apparently, but has the opposite effect on Diet Coke. So single handed opening of bottles of Diet Coke while driving can lead to splurging of Diet Coke all over the place. This doesn’t matter to some people, but others like not to get Diet Coke all over the clothes and the inside of their cars. The sudden eruption of Diet Coke can, I would suggest, lead to distraction from the road. So don’t open fizzy drinks bottles while driving.
As a secondary issue, and sometimes as a direct result of splurging, attempting to replace lids on open bottles of drink can sometimes lead to difficulties. This is why a lot of bottles have those nippular type lids. I know ‘nippular’ isn’t a word but I don’t want to cause any offence by referring to teatacles. Which also isn’t a word. Attempting to replace a bottle lid single handed can relatively frequently lead to bottle lids flying off into other parts of the car, often the footwell. The driver is left with the dilemma of what to do with the bottle. Do you attempt to retrieve the lid? Do you attempt to balance the bottle in a manner which prevents spillage? Or do you make the crazy decision to attempt to finish off the whole bottle in one fell swoop? All of these options can lead to distraction from driving. Probably best not to risk the bottle lid manoeuvre.
The other common issue I became aware of in my long past days of eating while driving was the issue of the clinging crisp packet. Crisps are great. My favourite motorway crisps are the Salt and Vinegar Discos.
As you approach the lower reaches of the crisp packet, things become a little more complicated. Often the crisps are smaller and you may feel inclined to take a few little crisps at a time. I’m going to carry on saying ‘you’, when obviously I mean ‘me’. In the little clusters of crisps you may get a couple of loose cannons who are unprepared to throw away their little crispy lives by going into your tummy. Some of them make desperate bids for freedom and fling them down your front. The really brave ones have decided to eke out some kind of pioneer lifestyle living in the crevices between the seat and the framework supporting the seat, or amidst the general grubbiness of the footwell. They fling themselves willy nilly. They do not care. But if you care even a teensy bit about the state of the inside of your car, you may make wild grabs for them as they go – ‘No freedom for you, my crispy friend!’
And then you get to the bottom of the crisp packet. All that lingers now are the tiny runty crisps. You have gorged yourself on crisps but the many chemicals that are applied to them to make them more-ish have incited your brain to a crisp eating frenzy. Even the little runty crisps need to be eaten. You reach into the bag for the few remaining crisps and as you withdraw your hand, the crisp packet comes with it. The crisp packet is trying to eat your hand! It doesn’t want to let go! You have to shake it around to free it! Your hand is not on the steering wheel! You are not driving with due care and attention! Stop it!
My method of choice for avoiding this issue is, obviously, to not eat crisps while driving. However, if you do not have the colossal self-restraint with which I am endowed, I would suggest a secondary option. Empty the crisp packet into a larger receptacle, like a lunch box. The lunch box hates crisps! It cannot get rid of them fast enough! A crisp packet is called a crisp packet not because it is a packet for crisps but because it is a packet which likes crisps. A lunch box wants lunch in it. It does not want crisps and it does not want to eat your hand. Crisps in a lunch box are not happy. They want to be in your tummy!
But mainly, be like me and don’t eat and drink while driving.
That would be safest.