Eating while driving is the worst form of distracted driving for a driver! Yet a study of 1,000 drivers done by ExxonMobil found that over 70% of drivers admit to eating while behind the wheel and 83% drink beverages while they drive.
A study done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) concluded that those who eat and drive increase the odds of an accident by 80%! They also concluded that 65% of near miss accidents are caused by distracted drivers fussing with food and drinks. Those are some pretty staggering and eye opening statistics! As a matter of fact, those stats are worse than texting while driving numbers!
The NHTSA even went as far as to list the most dangerous foods and beverages. Starbucks would be very sad to hear that coffee takes first place. Drinking coffee is the single most dangerous food item to have in the vehicle when it comes to distracted driving. Think about it, what happens if you spill that coffee on your lap? Even when your morning coffee is sitting in a cup holder, you aren’t safe! What happens when you hit a pothole and coffee starts splashing out through the vents and holes on the lid. Doesn’t it attract your attention? Yup, your beloved coffee is putting you at risk! So please, don’t drink (coffee) and drive.
Dangers of Eating & Driving
Warning: Eating While Driving Is Illegal in Some Places
List of the Top 10 Most Dangerous Foods & Beverages While Driving
Anything you touch, such as the steering wheel, armrest, your clothes, etc., will leave nasty chocolate fingerprints. A driver’s instinctive reaction is to clean the stains, which of course, leads to a major distraction! The main reason chocolate made the top 10 most dangerous foods to eat while driving is because it’s messy. It’s not really something you can spill, it isn’t extremely hot, and if you drop your candy bar, no big deal. It’s not something you have to clean up immediately. But when chocolate gets all over your fingers and hands, or worse yet, your nice bright white shirt on the way to your business meeting, the distraction can get dangerous.
9. Soft Drinks
A simple soft drink made the list? You betcha! Spilling a drink, having a can or bottle fall out of the cup holder, and even the act of taking a sip all lead to increased driver distractions. Searching the floorboard of your car to find that water bottle rolling around takes your eyes off the road in a worse way than texting and driving. Think about it, why is texting while driving dangerous? Because you have to take your eyes off the road, if even for just a split second. Now, what do you think happens when you are guzzling down a bottle of Pepsi or when you spill the 92oz soda in your lap? Can we say, distracted?
8. Jelly And Cream Filled Or Powdered Donuts
So you swing into Dunkin’ Donuts and get your nice hot coffee and tasty jelly donut. You take a bite, and the jelly oozes out the end and drips all over your nice new work pants. You guessed it, a major driver distraction! Now, I’ll be the first to admit, sometimes there is nothing better in the morning than a large cup of coffee and a surgery donut or two. My favorite is the Boston Cream Pie, but unfortunately, those probably aren’t any safer. Quite frankly, anything that has the potential to be messy is dangerous in the car. Many types of donuts are very talented at causing a messy situation and your car is not safe from such menacing donuts.
7. Fried chicken
Fried chicken is delicious, but better enjoyed at home. Eating while driving can be dangerous, but eating fried chicken while driving is just ridiculous! A driver eating fried chicken will constantly be cleaning off his or her hands from all the grease. Have you ever gotten grease on a steering wheel or an armrest? It isn’t easy to clean off once it has been there for a while! And worse yet, fried chicken can cause a mess. We’ve already covered the “messy food scenario” with the donuts, but the same thing applies here. Eat your fried chicken in the restaurant or while parked.
6. Any Barbecued Food
Who doesn’t like BBQ sauce! But remember, if it can drip, it will certainly find a way to do that while you’re driving. Getting barbecue sauce all over your clothes and a nice leather car seat will surely lead to distracted driving. People try all sorts of tricks. They put napkins down on their lap, they keep baby wipes close by, and maybe even have an entire roll of paper towels ready to go. Believe me, I understand the temptation of BBQ, but it’s more suitable for the backyard than the driver’s seat.
5. Juicy Hamburgers
Again, if it can drip, it’ll find a way to do so in your car. Don’t let that $3 burger from McDonald’s turn into a $500 or $1,000 deductible from your insurance company. That would be an expensive burger! As one of the most frequently consumed items in vehicles, many people have grown content with eating a burger in the car. It has been so normalized in our society that fast food companies have even made it easier to eat and drive with your Big Mac or Whopper. Heck, these days, you don’t even need to exit your vehicle!
Anything containing chilies, like a chili dog, sloppy Joe, or Coney dog is obviously quite dangerous and distracting. Chili is fantastic on a lot of things. But chili on your steering wheel or your sweater isn’t so great and will take your focus off the road. Now, this is one of those items you probably don’t think you’d eat while driving down the road, but, the fact is lots of people do and eat worse. Remember, friends, don’t let friends eat chili and drive.
When you hit that pothole and your taco turns into a fiesta bowl on your lap, it’s sure to cause some erratic vehicle movements. Sure, who doesn’t love a late-night Taco Bell drive-thru around 1 am? I understand that sometimes, a good ol’ taco calls your name, but save it for when you get home. Oh, and if you have a long drive, don’t forget to order your taco in the softshell. A soggy taco shell is no good when you finally get home.
2. Hot Soups
Who doesn’t love a nice steaming hot bowl of classic Chicken Noodle Soup? Pretty much everyone except the driver who just spilled it all over the floorboard of their car….and the person they rear end as a result. Some soup companies, like Campbell’s, are now making soup in little portable “sippy cup” looking things. It’s a whole lot safer than trying to eat your soup from a bowl, however, even soup in portable “sippy” containers can be dangerous. It’s just as dangerous as the most dangerous food on our list…
Coffee? Yes, coffee! That’s the most dangerous food item to have in your car while you’re driving! When we think of eating while driving, we normally think of solid foods. But coffee is responsible for more distracted driving accidents than any other food item. You wouldn’t guess it with the number of Starbucks drive-thrus and free Monday coffee at McDonald’s, but the fact is, with coffee being so readily available and so popular, it is widely used. Piping hot coffee in the car is just a bad idea.
Additional Facts About Eating While Driving
- The majority of food-related accidents occur in the morning hours. People are more concerned about their appearance in the morning as they are heading to work, so a spill is a much bigger deal. Eating while driving also occurs more frequently when people are running late.
- A manual transmission vehicle doubles the chances of distracted driving crashes caused by food consumption.
Yes! Eating While Driving Really Is Dangerous!
Some distracted driving activities get a free pass. With the number of fast-food drive-thrus and Starbucks on seemingly every corner in the most dangerous driving areas, the task of eating while driving has been normalized by our society. Nobody thinks it’s a big deal and in fact, our vehicles and fast food companies have made it as easy as possible for you. Just because a certain form of distracted driving is overlooked, that doesn’t mean you should take part. Eating while driving is just as dangerous, if not more dangerous than texting while driving!
How to Avoid Eating While Driving
I know it’s hard to resist the temptation. How can you ignore these top 10 foods we just discussed earlier, right? However, your safety should always be your priority. You can go on living and survive without food for several days, but an unexpected turn of events can lead to an accident that can end your life in an instant.
With that said, here are a few tips that can help you resist the temptation to eat while you’re driving.
Eat on time and don’t drive on an empty stomach. Eating regularly, right on time, reduces the tendency to crave snacks while on the road. If you keep yourself full before departure, that’s even better, you’ll have no room for more food.
Don’t keep snacks in your car. Candies and mini-chocolate bars are okay – these can actually divert your cravings for something else. But snack foods and chips, even drinks, should be kept as far away from the driver’s seat. At least you’ll think twice about having to pull over if you want to eat simply because the storage is unreachable without getting out of your car.
Make dining out a fun event for friends or family members. If you are looking forward to having a delicious meal, you’ll want to free up more space while you’re driving towards the dining place. Well, this won’t happen all the time, but turning this into a habit can at least make you feel eating inside your car a little bit empty, so you’d rather not eat while driving.