The dangers of eating or drinking while driving

In our modern age of convenience and drive-thru restaurants, drivers can enjoy their favourite food and drinks without removing the keys from the ignition or even leaving the driver’s seat. When the topic of distracted driving is brought up, we immediately think of ‘texting and driving’.

Did you know that eating and drinking whilst driving a moving vehicle significantly increases your risk of suffering a vehicle accident? This is because eating and drinking incorporates the three categories of distraction, namely, visual, manual, and cognitive. Besides these categories, the possibility of choking is a major hazard.

According to a study based on food-related insurance claims, here are the top ‘worst’ items to eat or drink while behind the wheel:

  1. Coffee: Spilling a hot beverage while driving can result in serious burns and cause immediate distractions. Extreme pain can interfere with your ability to pay attention to the road.
  2. Soup: The risks associated with consuming hot soup while behind the wheel are identical to those associated with drinking hot coffee. Rather save this for the office!
  3. Wraps (or any kind of saucy on-the-go meal):  Foods that “fall apart” while being consumed, cause more of a mess – and a distraction, and should never be consumed while driving a vehicle.
  4. Hamburgers: Hamburgers are hard to resist on a road trip. But burgers have many parts –tomatoes, lettuce, burger patties – all of which can slide out of the bun and mess in your vehicle, causing distractions. 
  5. Fried chicken: Grease, grease, grease. Your hands will be oily and could be a danger when turning the steering wheel.  Need we say more?
  6. Filled donuts: The filling tends to drip and splatter, creating a sticky mess that you have to deal with while driving, leaving you distracted.
  7. Soft drinks: Any sudden movement can send your beverage container flying. Besides the sticky mess, your container could become lodged under the pedals, which could in turn cause an accident if you are unable to brake.

Try to find ways to avoid eating behind the wheel. It’s not as hard as you think. It could be as simple as setting your alarm five minutes earlier in the morning and eating breakfast at home. It may not be convenient to you at first, but it could save your life or someone else’s.

Be a conscientious passenger. Help the driver keep their eyes on the road, even if food is involved. Encourage others not to eat or drink while driving so they can keep both hands on the wheel and both eyes on the road. If you are travelling with children, it’s safer to not let your kids eat in the car in case your child starts choking while you are driving, causing an unsafe situation for all.

Eating while driving is not worth endangering yourself or others. Wishing you safe travels!


African Independent Brokers (Pty) Ltd (Registration number 2012/010479/07) is an authorised financial services provider (FSP38159).