Drivers who are drinking and stuffing their faces while on the road are a serious problem, according to a report on Insure.com.
Eating while you drive is one of the most distracting things you can do, according to several recent surveys by insurance companies and data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Hagerty Classic Insurance, a provider of classic-car insurance, began to look more closely at this issue after a DMV check on an insurance applicant turned up a "restraining order" against anything edible within his reach while driving. The man apparently had several previous accidents related to food on his driving record.
Though NHTSA doesn't track specific information on food-related distraction, it does track general distractions and distractions in cars were considered the cause in 25 percent of the more than 6.3 million auto crashes.
In looking at the insurer's history of claims, Hagerty found that most drivers had problems in the morning on the way to work, when spills were likely to mar their work attire. That made drivers more anxious to clean up spills while still trying to drive, and didn't necessarily make them more likely to pull off the road to deal with the mess.
The top 10 food offenders in a car are:
1. Coffee — It always finds a way out of the cup.
2. Hot soup — Many people drink it like coffee and run the same risks.
3. Tacos — "A food that can disassemble itself without much help, leaving your car looking like a salad bar," says Hagerty.
4. Chili — The potential for drips and slops down the front of clothing is significant.
5. Hamburgers — From the grease of the burger to ketchup and mustard, it could all end up on your hands, your clothes, and the steering wheel.
6. Barbecued food — The sauce may be great, but if you have to lick your fingers, the sauce will end up on whatever you touch.
7. Fried chicken — Another food that leaves you with greasy hands, which means constantly wiping them on something, even if it's your shirt. It also makes the steering wheel greasy.
8. Jelly or cream-filled donuts — Has anyone eaten a jelly donut without some of the center oozing out?
9. Soft drinks — Not only are they subject to spills, but also the carbonated kind can fizz as you're drinking if you make sudden movements.
10. Chocolate — Leaves its mark anywhere you touch. As you try to clean it off the steering wheel you're likely to end up swerving.