In-car dining: The basics of eating inside your car safely

Everybody loves to eat. We do it regularly, and if you're lucky, you may even eat three times a day or more. For many people, dining inside their cars has become the norm. It rings especially true since the onset of the pandemic. Most of us were discouraged from dining out in our favorite restaurants, so the options became delivery or takeout. 

Eating inside your car can be safe and enjoyable, whether you're hitting up the drive-thru solo in a hatchback or spending time with family in a van or SUV. Before you take the wheel for your next food adventure, take note of these basic in-car dining tips.

In-car dining

Driving requires a high level of focus and concentration. When you're dining and driving simultaneously, you're not giving the road the necessary level of attention needed to keep yourself and your passengers safe. It can also change your regular driving movements, and it may keep you from reacting quickly to a potential accident.

At present, no national law explicitly prohibits eating while driving a vehicle. There is the Anti-Distracted Driving Act, but that only applies to using smartphones and other electronic devices. However, we think that eating and texting can both affect your driving skills in the same way, so it's best to avoid both altogether.

While some drivers will have no problem sneaking in a snack here and there, eating a full-blown meal behind the wheel can be unsafe. The safest alternative would be to stop somewhere and eat your food there.

In-car dining

In the same way that good driving requires undivided attention, good food deserves a moment or two to appreciate properly. Think about it, wouldn't it be better to park your car and enjoy a nice meal without thinking about anything else? You couldn't possibly do this well enough while maneuvering a vehicle and abiding by traffic rules.

Whatever your choice of food is, there's bound to be a place to stop right around the corner. Many fast food places offer parking for drive-thru customers. If that's not available, look for a well-lit space nearby where you can park your car and enjoy your food while it's hot.

Doing this keeps you safer than you would be if you ate on the go. That said, dining inside a parked car wouldn't necessarily save you from every kind of food-related accident. The dangers aren't just outside of your vehicle—but inside it too.

In-car dining

Stopping your car to eat the food you bought is good, but it comes with another set of things you have to keep in mind. If you can, avoid eating while in the driver's or front passenger's seat. That's because this area houses several of your vehicle's critical components. 

Take care not to spill food or drinks on the electronic gear shifter, touchscreen display, USB ports, wireless charger, electrical sockets, air conditioning vents, and other parts. Most of these are expensive to repair or replace, and you can avoid the bill if you keep food away from the car's front.

What you can do instead is move to the back, where you can place a mat or picnic blanket for protection. If you're going for maximum safety, you can also go out and open the trunk or tailgate and dine there. Whichever way you like it, you'll always be better off shielding your vehicle against potential damage.

In-car dining products

Nowadays, there seems to be a product for every problem out there. In-car dining isn't an exception, as there are multiple solutions out there from big and small brands alike. Search any online store, and you'll find many of these products, all with varying levels of effectiveness.

One of the most popular solutions looks to be a dining tray that attaches to the steering wheel. When properly secured, it's essentially a small table to hold your food. Some models even have a cup holder for your drink. It's an ingenious method, but keep in mind that you'd still be risking your vehicle's electronics when you're dining at the front seat.

There are other usable products in the market, like waterproof aprons, seat covers, gear shifter covers, and a whole lot more. Without a doubt, with the number of options available, committed in-car diners can find a setup that works for them well.

In-car dining

Driving and eating at the same time is almost always a bad idea. It can be distracting, messy, and you wouldn't get to enjoy your meal the right way. 

You can avoid accidents, expensive repairs, and cleaning bills by choosing to stop your vehicle and eat your food while parked at a good location. If you're up for it, there are products you can buy to make your in-car dining experience more convenient. Follow the tips above, and you'll be able to enjoy eating in your car and be safe while you're doing it.

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