Yorkshire cycling website


Toothbrush driving

10th October 2018

Hornbeam Park, Harrogate

Hornbeam Park, Harrogate

Is toothbrush driving acceptable? It's the equivalent of drink driving, but 'brushing your teeth' replaces 'drinking'.

Cycling up Hornbeam Park yesterday, there was a queue of cars at the lights. I used the cycle lane to go past the queuing cars, and into the Advanced Stop Zone for bikes.

The lead car waiting at the lights was taking up half of the Advanced Stop Zone (obviously). I took up position in what was left of the box.

I looked round, because I wanted to check who I was dealing with. I also find that making eye contact reminds a driver that I'm a person, not an object to be slalomed around.

Imagine my amazement, dear reader (it's alright, it's just that I'm trying to plough through Jane Eyre at the moment, and it's having strange effects; I expect to have finished it by 2023), to see the driver brushing his teeth.

Toothbrush driving - is it ok?

If you walk round town, you see people using their mobile phones at the wheel all the time. Driving using one hand, while sticking a mobile phone to their ear with the other; driving using one hand, while holding the phone flat with the other, and having a conversation on speakerphone; reading texts in slow traffic; failing to set off when the lights change because they're sending a text.

All of this, every day, hundreds, probably thousands of times a day, and no consequences (except on the occasions when it causes an accident; then, very serious consequences).

Mobile phones are addictive. People use them all the time - at home on the settee, in the kitchen, while walking in the park, when crossing the street, on the bus, and on the train. All the time. Yes, the government recently upped possible fines and points for driving and using a phone, but that is entirely theoretical. If you use your phone at the wheel, no one will stop you.

The toothbrush was a new one on me, though. I have seen someone shaving at the lights before now, but never brushing their teeth.

I'm sure the driver thinks there's not much harm in it. It's only at the traffic lights, it's not going to cause an accident.

Nevertheless, it takes some preparation. You have to get your toothbrush out, and apply toothpaste to it. (I'll assume you know the other details of the procedure, and spare you the rest of the 'how to brush your teeth' lecture). The point is, it's distracting, it takes at least one hand, and for some parts of the operation, two hands; and you can't guarantee you're going to be stationary at the lights during all of it.

I suggest the rule should be: when you're driving, you drive and you don't do anything else. Probably, that is the rule.

I'm not against clean teeth and fresh breath per se. I'd even go so far as to say that I incline to a favourable opinion of both of these states of being. For other people, obviously. But I'd rather you keep your Colgate and your Citroën separate.

Comment Form is loading comments...
Bike lane, Copenhagen Oresund bridgeBike lane, Copenhagen