ONE in seven people who are professional drivers eat at the wheel each week and put lives at risk.
One lorry driver was jailed after he was caught eating spaghetti which had caused him to drive erratically along a dual carriageway.
Now Huddersfield road safety charity Brake says companies should do more to make sure their drivers are being sensible on the road.
The charity has also called for a total ban on hands-free mobile phones while people are driving as it believes even speaking on the phone can distract people’s attention with potentially terrible results.
According to research by Brake and breakdown organisation Green Flag, one in seven people who drive for a living eat a meal at least once a week while driving.
Last June, a Dutch lorry driver was jailed for eight weeks and banned from driving for a year after he was found eating a plate of spaghetti while driving erratically along a dual carriageway in North Wales.
He admitted dangerous driving.
The Brake and Green Flag survey also found that people who drive for a living are twice as likely to break the law by using a hand-held mobile phone, with one in 10 admitting doing this at least once a week.
Brake head of campaigns Cathy Keeler said: “Eating while driving can cause a significant delay to reaction times with research suggesting that a simple task such as eating a bag of crisps while driving slows down reaction times by 29%.
“Research has shown that when driving while using a mobile phone it is the distraction of the conversation which poses the risk.
“Travelling at 70mph, a driver using a hands-free mobile will take longer to react. This reaction will mean they stop after 128ft rather than 102ft.
“That 26ft could be the difference between crashing or not. Brake calls on the Government to make the use of hands-free mobile phones while driving illegal.
“While the law allows hands-free kits to be used, drivers will continue to put themselves and others at risk.’’
She added: “Driving is the most dangerous activity that most of us do daily.
“No-one would dream of snacking on a sarnie or picking up the phone while using a chainsaw or doing any other safety-critical job – and we mustn’t when driving.’’
She also said more traffic police were needed to enforce the law.