Is It Illegal To Eat While Driving in Australia?

We all know it’s illegal to drink and drive- but what about eating and driving?

It’s entirely too easy to eat while driving. You may be running late for work and grab a piece of toast as you run out the door. Or stop at a drive-thru and absentmindedly eat a few chips on the way home. But is this seemingly harmless activity illegal?

Is it Illegal to Eat while Driving?

Most Australian states have no specific law that prohibits eating and driving. However, there is some concern that stuffing your gob while operating heavy machinery could fall under the category of distracted driving.

It’s entirely possible to be pulled over and fined for not having proper control of your vehicle for devouring a meal while driving. There have been cases of drivers receiving a hefty fine and a few demerit points. Some more severe cases have resulted in charges and imprisonment.

In some states, you can be fined for dangerous driving for not using both hands to drive. It only makes sense that holding a pizza slice with one hand and driving with the other classifies as not using both hands to drive.

Of course, eating a bowl of cereal or soup is very different to munching a few chips.

Why shouldn’t I eat and drive?

After all, the Maccas drive-thru exists for a reason, and I can hold a burger one-handed. Why shouldn’t I eat and drive?

While you can technically eat and drive- and let’s be real, most of us have- there are a few reasons you may not want to. For one thing, you’re gonna make a total McMess of your car, and it takes ages to get that stale chip smell- or, God forbid, spilled milkshake smell- out of your car.

Texting while driving is distracting- for obvious reasons. No matter how many times you peek up at the road while sending a quick text, you aren’t paying full attention to the task at hand. You’re putting yourself, your passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians at risk. And you’ve got one hand occupied while you drive one-handed.

Well, inhaling a delicious burger isn’t that much different. You’ve only got one hand free. If you happen to be my dad (and if so, hi Dad!), you’re holding the burger with both hands and driving with your knees. Of course, in the case of an emergency, you can drop your food and put both hands on the steering wheel- but in the second it takes to do so, you may have wasted valuable time. And now you’ve got a dismembered quesadilla spread across your upholstery. Now your car is a messy crime scene and your delicious snack is the victim.

Even in the best-case scenario, you get momentarily distracted when a bit of saucy tomato drops into your lap. Or you spill mustard on your white top.

In short, it’s probably best for everyone if you take five minutes to pull over and eat. That way you get to enjoy your food in peace and you don’t have to spend weeks wondering where that hideous smell is coming from when you inevitably drop a nugget under your seat.

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