Can you eat and drink behind the wheel?

Woman driving a car on the road with a drink and burger in her hands.

Do you tend to snack while driving?

Long car journeys can be exhausting, and a quick snack can give you a much-needed energy boost. But is it even legal to eat and drink while driving?

Rules on eating

The good news is, eating while driving is not illegal, but you should make sure you’re being cautious.

Research by the University of Leeds found the reaction times of motorists who were eating were up to 44% slower than usual. Some of us may focus fully on our food while eating, which could lead to a serious accident.

According to Rule 148 of the Highway Code, “safe driving and riding needs concentration”. If you’re getting distracted by eating, and lose control of your vehicle, you could be prosecuted for careless driving, which carries a fine of £100 and three penalty points on your licence.

In more serious cases, you could be fined £5,000 and get up to nine penalty points and even a court-imposed driving ban.

What about drinking?

Similar rules and consequences apply to drinking soft drinks while driving.

It’s not illegal to drink soft drinks but if it results in careless driving, you may be prosecuted and could risk paying a fine of £100 as well as incurring three penalty points.

If you want to avoid the risk, you may choose to not have any drinks in your car, but dehydration could then have an impact on your driving.

Scientists at Loughborough University found that driving while dehydrated can be just as dangerous as drink-driving as it can cause a loss of focus and lead to drowsiness and slower reaction times.

Drinking alcohol behind the wheel is a definite no. If you drink alcohol while driving, you could face three months imprisonment, up to £2,500 fine and a possible driving ban. The maximum fine for being in charge of a vehicle while drunk is capped at £2,500.

Eat, drink (soft drinks) and even watch movies without a worry in self-driving cars. Read more here.

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