The first thing to remember about eating and driving is not to mix the two.
Trying to eat a sandwich when driving is just as dangerous and distracting as talking on a mobile phone. Eating and driving may not be a specific offence, but the police can prosecute drivers for not using due care and attention if their driving is affected by eating at the wheel.
Here are some dos and don'ts of eating while driving:
DO take regular stops every two hours to have a snack. This is a very good way to avoid fatigue, which is one of the biggest enemies of safe driving. When you stop, try to eat small amounts as they are more easily digested than large meals.
DON'T eat large meals. Large meals, especially ones that contain a lot of fat such as in chips and burgers, require much more effort from your stomach. This takes blood away from other parts of your body, which results in the tired feeling you experience after a large meal.
DO go lighter. Lighter foods such as salads, fruit and fish are a much wiser choice, as well as being healthier than fried foods. Eat slowly and give your body time to digest the food, so no quick pitstops.
DON'T be fooled into thinking chocolate is good for an energy boost. The problem with sweets and chocolates is that they offer a quick rush of energy that won’t last long and leave you feeling much the same as before.
DO eat breakfast. A good breakfast is the foundation to any day and this works for driving too. Give the full fry up a miss and head for cereal, yoghurt and fruit instead. Fruit is full of natural sugars that release energy slowly over a long period, which is ideal for staying alert when driving. Bananas, apples, oranges and blueberries are all excellent choices.
DO top up on caffeine. Caffeine is a tried and tested way to boost alertness when driving, but plan ahead and drink a coffee about 15 minutes before driving again. This gives the caffeine time to get into your system. However, don’t rely on coffee or energy drinks if you’re already tired as a proper break and sleep are the safest options to refresh you.
DON'T drink too much! Coffee is a diuretic, which means you will need to stop more often for comfort breaks, which is a good way to revitalise your energy and alertness. Also, drink plenty of water as dehydration causes fatigue and reduced reaction times.
DO chew. Another good way to stay focused when driving is to chew gum. This helps prevent yawning, which is a sign of tiredness and also causes your brain to become more tired. By chewing gum, you keep your mind occupied until you can pull in for a proper rest and food break.
Just as sports stars need to fuel their bodies with the best food, drivers can do the same to stay alert and safe. So, avoid the burger and chips and take the healthy option to be a driving athlete.