Eating while driving is dangerous: according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA), distracted driving causes thousands of injuries and deaths each year.  Even though food should be our friend, dining behind the wheel ranks high on the NHSTA list of Ways to Get in a Wreck. Learn the dangers of eating and driving and which distracting and messy foods to avoid on the road.  

The Dangers of Eating and Drinking While Driving

Eating and drinking while behind the wheel is a form of distracted driving, or an activity that diverts your attention away from the road. According to the NHSTA, distracted driving claimed 3,142 lives in 2020. Driving is an activity that requires your full attention, and eating takes your attention away from the road, putting you at a higher risk of getting into an accident—especially if you’re eating messy or gooey foods.  

Is Eating and Driving Illegal?

Eating and driving is not explicitly illegal in the U.S. However, eating while driving can cause distracted driving behaviors, which can lead to traffic law violations, tickets, and blemishes on your driving record 

The Worst Foods to Eat While Driving

We get it—everyone gets hungry on the road sometimes. While eating and driving is still discouraged, certain foods are worse than others. Avoid the following delicacies and opt for more simple snacks while driving. 

  1. Soft drinks
    • A cold beverage on a hot day is refreshing, but don’t spill – icy liquid pooling around your posterior is sure to make you jump.
  2. Jelly/Cream filled donuts
    • You’ve taken a big bite, when an errant stream of sweet goo oozes onto your blouse or tie. Suddenly, you’re assessing the stains and licking your fingers, instead of watching the road.
  3. Chili, Hot Soup
    • Some foods are mobile, some are not.  Simultaneously steering a car and a steaming spoonful is like inviting lunch to live on your clothes.
  4. Barbecued food
    • Man, that sauce is good!  Oops, some got on the upholstery! Oops, it’s on your hand! And the dashboard! And the steering wheel! Oops, what’s that up ahead?!
  5. Tacos, Hamburgers
    • Two staples for on-the-go gourmet, both jammed with flavorful fixings.  Unfortunately, those tasty ingredients usually attempt to escape from buns or tortillas with every bite.  Don’t let a squirt of salsa or special sauce steal your attention from the road.
  6. Coffee
    • The lifeblood of commuters everywhere, coffee is the #1 car crash causer on our list.  If everyone skipped their morning cup, thousands of fender benders per year could be blamed on snoozing behind the wheel.  But a piping hot splash on your body won’t help you watch out for your fellow drivers. Be careful when you caffeinate! 

When you hit the road, don’t let distractions divert your attention from driving. Always keep both eyes and your full concentration on the road. And remember, if you’ve had accidents, a DUI, or too many tickets, The General® can help you with affordable car insurance coverage and documentation. Get a free online car insurance quote in under two minutes and get back on the road while saving money!