A survey by Brake, the road safety charity and Direct Line has found a third of drivers questioned sometimes eat food behind the wheel.

Just over a quarter of people surveyed (27 per cent) say they have unwrapped and eaten food and a third (33 per cent) say they have eaten food someone else has unwrapped for them.

More than half (55 per cent) of drivers in the 25-24 age bracket admit they have unwrapped and then eaten at the wheel, with just under a third saying they do it at least once every week.

Most worryingly, one in ten of the drivers in the survey said they had been involved in a near-miss because they were distracted by eating food. A near-miss was classed as having to suddenly brake or swerve to avoid a hazard.

Alice Bailey, communications and campaigns advisor for Brake, said: “Imagining a distracted driver you may think of someone on a mobile phone, but many things can dangerously draw our attention away from the roads around us. In the fast-paced world we live in it is sometimes tempting to eat on the go, but drivers who are distracted by something else, even food, significantly increase their risk of causing a devastating crash. If you’re hungry, you probably need to take a short break from driving to eat and recuperate before continuing your journey when you’re not distracted by hunger or eating.”

Gus Park, commercial director of motor at Direct Line said: “Whilst we appreciate people’s busy lifestyles often dictate that we eat on the go and that a sudden pang of hunger can seem impossible to ignore, we urge drivers not to let their stomachs get in the way of good judgement and safe driving. If you really can’t wait until you reach your destination to eat, then stopping off for a comfort break is a much better idea than eating at the wheel. Pit-stops provide a great opportunity to reenergise before the next leg of your journey.”