Eating while driving may make you feel like you’re the ultimate multitasker, but in reality, you’re putting your life and the lives of everyone on the road in danger. Let’s take a closer look at eating while driving and how it can affect you.

Why Is Eating While Driving Dangerous?

Most drivers don’t think eating while driving is dangerous. Although eating and driving is a common practice by many drivers, it doesn’t make it any more safe!

Taking Both Hands Off the Wheel

When you’re eating while driving, you’re almost always required to take both hands off the steering wheel to hold your food. When you’re eating, you’re likely more focused on the food than the road, making eating while driving one of the worst types of distracted driving.

If you’re eating fast food while driving, there are dangers that you probably don’t realize. Most fast food items come in folded paper bags, which means you’ll need to take at least one hand off the wheel to open the bag.

Depending on the foods you ordered, some food items may come in wrappers that need to be removed, including condiments. Sauce packets must be torn open and put on your food, meaning you’ll take at least one hand off the steering wheel and look down at your food instead of keeping your eyes on the road.

Bringing leftovers from home doesn’t help as much as you think it does. Although you’ll save money by packing a lunch from home, it won’t help much on your commute because you’re still eating while driving. You’ll still need at least one hand to open container lids. Depending on what type of food you bring, you’ll need both hands to eat it.

Consuming Non-Alcoholic Beverages is Still Dangerous

Alright, so you’re not drinking and driving per se, but even if you’re drinking a non-alcoholic beverage, you’re putting everyone, including yourself, in danger. Did you know that consuming a non-alcoholic beverage while driving can have the same effects as driving under the influence of alcohol?

It may sound strange, but it’s true! Large to-go cups hold true to their name, and because they’re large, they can obscure your field of vision while you’re consuming the drink. If you didn’t unwrap the straw as soon as you got your drink, you’ll have to do so in the car, which requires you to take your hands off the steering wheel and eyes off the road. What may seem like a few seconds can actually be several seconds. A lot can happen in a few seconds, especially when you’re driving if you have a 20 oz. soda, whether it’s in a can or a bottle, you’re going to have to take both hands off the steering wheel to open it without making a mess.

Allowing Your Passengers to Eat in Your Vehicle

Allowing passengers to chow down in your vehicle doesn’t seem like a safety risk, but it can be. Believe it or not, the sounds of your passengers enjoying their food can be distracting, and if you opt out of getting food, the smell of their food will likely make you hungry, another thing that can distract you.

Needless to say, offers of “bites” of their food may be considered a nice gesture, but when you’re driving, it’s deemed a safety risk. Why? Since you’re in the driver’s seat, your passengers, especially if there’s more than one, are seated in the back. In order to share food, you have to turn around to get the food, which means taking your eyes off the road, or the passengers have to take their seatbelt off to bring the food to you. Either way, it’s a safety risk.

Not Cleaning Out Your Car

Neglecting to clean out your vehicle is a safety risk for different reasons. Driving a cluttered vehicle can be a serious distraction. If you eat a lot of fast food while traveling, such as on your way to work, during your lunch break, or on your way home, there’s a good chance you have bags, containers, and drinks throughout your vehicle.

It’s easy to leave paper cups, food wrappers, and other items in your vehicle, especially if you’re in a rush. As time progresses, the trash piles up, leaving you to drive under messy conditions, which is a part of distracted driving. Soda bottles, food containers, napkins, and other items can get lodged under the accelerator or brake, which is a recipe for disaster.

How Often Are Accidents Caused by People Who Were Eating and Driving?

Approximately 3,000 people die in accidents that are caused by distracted driving. Driving while eating has three main types of driving distraction – visual, manual, and cognitive. There is a visual distraction because you have to take your eyes off the road to see your food. The manual distraction occurs when you take your hands off the wheel to prepare or grab your food to eat. Cognitive distraction occurs when you take your mind off driving because you are focused on eating.

What Are the Most Common Foods People Eat While Driving?

People eat a lot of different foods while they’re driving. Are some of your favorite foods or treats on this list? Let’s find out. Here’s a list of the most common foods drivers eat while operating a motor vehicle.


Most people have a cup of coffee in the morning to get their day started. Unfortunately, they enjoy their cup of coffee while driving. Coffee is the most consumed beverage drivers enjoy while they’re driving. Spilling coffee can cause the driver to become distracted and suffer burns. With all this commotion going on, the driver is distracted, which can lead to an accident.


While chocolate can be your best friend in many situations, it’s not so great when you’re driving. Although chocolate itself isn’t hazardous, the mess it can create while you’re driving is the issue. It doesn’t take much for chocolate to melt. The result of eating chocolate while driving can be chocolate fingerprints on the steering wheel, your clothes, and other surfaces in your vehicle, causing you to take your eyes off the road.


Some cup holders aren’t as sturdy as others, and if you have a flimsy cup holder, there’s a good chance your drink will spill, leaving a sticky mess behind. Even if you have top-tier cup holders, it doesn’t help when you take your eyes off the road to take a sip or when the cup takes up half of your field of vision, and you can’t properly see the road.


Donuts are delicious but messy treats, especially powdered, jelly, or cream cheese-filled donuts. The filling will almost certainly drop out of the donut onto your clothing or steering wheel, and you’ll look down and try to clean the mess while driving. Trying to clean the mess forces you to take your eyes off the road.

Popular Fast Food Items

Fast food items such as tacos, cheeseburgers, and cold-cut sandwiches are considered handheld meals. While you may think you’re doing your part as a responsible driver by not consuming meals that require silverware, eating any type of food while driving is not responsible. Sometimes eating these foods can be difficult, especially if you have a lot of toppings on your burger. The toppings can fall out and make a mess in your vehicle. Too often, drivers use both hands to hold their burger or taco, creating an unnecessary safety risk.

Other fast food items, such as friends and chicken nuggets aren’t as savvy for the road as you think. Most people enjoy their chicken nuggets with sauce, and it’s easy for the sauce to get everywhere, leaving one big mess behind. French fries are another popular type of fast food that people can’t get enough of. French fries are greasy and can be salty. The grease from the fries can make the steering wheel slippery.

Ways to Avoid Eating in Your Car While Driving

The good news is eating in your car while driving is avoidable, keeping you and your travelers on the road safe. Here are a few ways you can avoid eating while driving.

Eat Before You Leave

If you know you need to be somewhere, wake up early so you have enough time to eat before you leave. Another option you have is to eat once you reach your destination. If you stop for breakfast on the way to your destination, such as work, wait until you get to work to eat. You can also eat in the parking lot. If you order food from the drive-thru, you can take your time and eat while you’re in the parking lot.

Plan Your Meals

If you know you get hungry while you’re commuting from one destination to the other, eat something fulfilling before leaving, such as a granola bar or similar food that helps with satiety. When you’re hungry, it’s difficult to stay focused on the road, so make sure you’re full before leaving the house.

Stay Hydrated

When you’re fatigued, you can feel tired, making it easier for you to become distracted while driving. However, make sure you drink enough water BEFORE leaving your location. You should also keep in mind that drinking a lot of water means you’ll have to go to the bathroom sooner rather than later, which may not be a hassle if you’re not about to embark on a long trip.

The Bottom Line

Don’t eat and drink while driving! This is an unnecessary driving habit that creates an unnecessary safety risk. As a driver, it’s your responsibility to ensure that you’re practicing safe driving habits and being safe on the road. Stay safe and happy driving!