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Music and dangerous driving

Right About Now, The Funk Soul Brother, Check It Out Now, The Funk Soul Brother...” Fatboy Slim is OK if you're dancing, but a word of warning if you're driving: an Israeli researcher says drivers who listen to fast music in their cars may have more than twice as many accidents as those listening to slower tracks. While previous studies have shown a link between loud music and dangerous driving, Warren Brodsky at Ben-Gurion University in Beer-Sheva, wondered if tempo had any effect on driver behaviour. To find out, he put a group of 28 students through their paces on a driving simulator as he exposed them to different pieces of music. Brodsky's selection included everything from laidback George Benson ballads to ultrafast clubbing anthems, and his results, he believes, have “got to be taken seriously...” (http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99992032).

Top 10 foods that trigger car crashes. Food related wrecks prompt study on snack driving—if you eat, don't drive

Chocolate, doughnuts, and fried chicken are among the top 10 most dangerous foods to consume while driving, according to research by an insurance company trying to cut losses from food related accidents. For instance, chocolate smears everything a driver touches. The instinctive reaction is to clean it off immediately, stealing attention from the road. Then—bang—food related wreck.

Hagerty Classic Insurance, a classic car insurer based in Michigan, became interested in food related wrecks last year after a damage claim. “When we looked into it, we found that the guy's licence was restricted to having no food within reach while driving”, company president McKeel Hagerty said. The man had had a number of food related wrecks. That, plus claims for food damage to interiors of collectible cars, prompted Mr Hagerty to “dig deeper”. It's more the spilling than the eating, according to the research. Mr Hagerty's claims showed that most food accidents happen in the morning. Drivers en route to work are worried about wearing food stained clothes all day, so they urgently try to clean spills but crash instead, Mr Hagerty surmises. Hot coffee is infamously dangerous. It is the worst offender on the company's list—especially without a lid.

Mr Hagerty says data came from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety, and company claims' files. Researchers tried to judge how hard it is to consume each food with one hand while driving, and to gauge how urgently a driver would react to a spill. Mr Michael Goodman, chief of driver behaviour research at NHTSA, said “we know that eating is a big problem” but be careful about branding it the new villain. “It's a lot easier for an investigating officer to identify food as a cause because the evidence is everywhere”, he said. In the case of cell phones and other distractions, experts say there is often no evidence.

Fast food merchants are on the case. More drive through foods are packaged to fit cup holders. And products have been changed to improve what Taco Bell spokesman Laurie Gannon calls “portability”. Her chain has adopted “thicker shredded cheese, crunchier taco shells, improved packaging”.

Avoid these—top 10 foods that are “dangerous”:

  1. Coffee

  2. Hot soup

  3. Tacos

  4. Spicy hot food

  5. Hamburgers

  6. Barbecued snacks

  7. Fried chicken

  8. Jelly doughnuts

  9. Soft drinks

  10. Chocolate

(From The Strait Times Interactive, May 2002)

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