As seen on:

SMH Logo News Logo

Call 1300 303 181

Australia’s Best New Car News, Reviews and Buying Advice

How To Eat While Driving

Note bad choice of food - and not just from a health perspective!

Note bad choice of food – and not just from a health perspective!

This is an article that you would never find written in French.  Or, if you did, it would consist of only one word: Don’t.  There is a reason why French cars such as Citroens  don’t come with cup holders.  According to French thinking, food is to be savoured and given one’s full attention rather than wolfed down on the go while driving.  Well, there’s a lot to say for that point of view.  However, if you’ve got a busy schedule, you could very easily find yourself eating on the run behind the wheel.  In fact, if you’re doing a long drive or if you do a lot of running around, eating behind the wheel could actually make you a safer driver.  I know that when the old blood sugar is running a bit low, I tend to feel cranky and irritable, get clumsy and not think straight (no, I do not have Type 1 diabetes).  So having a bit of a nibble while doing the Mum’s Taxi thing is a real sanity saver, if not a life saver.

There is an art to eating while driving.  You want to be able to do it safely so you main focus of attention goes on the road.  You also want to be able to do it cleanly, without getting bits of sandwich filling all over the car.  Ideally, you also want to do it healthily.  So how?

Clever snack planning is the key.  You need to look out for something that doesn’t involve too much unwrapping or peeling, and something that can be stored on your lap or within easy reach so you can put it down between bites or whenever you need to use both hands (bench seats are great for this!).  You also want to avoid things that drip, spill, squish or come to bits.  Lastly, in at least a token gesture towards the French attitude towards food, it’s best to have something that’s not so special that it really deserves your full attention.

So what snacks are suitable for munching behind the wheel?  Here’s a small selection:

  • Shelled nuts in a packet (my go-to favourite driving snack)
  • Dried fruit
  • Fresh fruit that can be just bitten into and isn’t too drippy.  Apples are good.
  • Chocolate bar
  • Beef jerky
  • Fresh vegetables such as cherry tomatoes or carrot sticks
  • Crackers and biscuits
  • Unwrapped sweets such as marshmallows (if you have to!)

Things to avoid include:

  • Meat pies – hot gravy spilling onto fingers and laps make for a major distraction
  • Very full sandwiches with lots of filling
  • Sushi (although if it’s well made so it doesn’t fall to bits and you have the carton handy on your lap you can get away with it – and I think sushi merits your full attention)
  • Anything that requires a fork, spoon or chopsticks
  • Burgers
  • Anything you’re allergic to
  • Individually wrapped sweets

The technique for eating in the car while driving is as follows:

Step 1: Put self in driver’s seat, put on seat belt and place snack on lap or bench seat, or arrange it in a paper cup in the cupholder. Open packets or pick plastic stickers off as needed.

Step 2:  Take first mouthful and start ignition.  Put snack back.  Back out drive, etc.

Step 3: During quiet moment of driving (low traffic, straight road, waiting at the lights), grab another bite and put snack down on lap.

Step 4: Put hands back on wheel and/or gear lever and continue driving while chewing mouthful thoroughly.  If you have to do anything more complicated than drive in a straight line, keep both hands on the wheel and off the snack (carrot sticks may be left in the mouth like a healthy cigar equivalent during hairy manoeuvres).

Step 5: Repeat Steps 3 and 4 as needed.

Don’t forget to remove apple cores, apricot pips and empty packets from the car at the end of your drive!

Safe and happy driving,