Drivers have been warned against eating or drinking at the wheel by breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist.

The organisation cites research by Brunel University, which found eating or drinking while driving doubled the risk of having an accident.

GEM also warned that eating or drinking while driving is an offence punishable either by a fixed penalty ticket or under careless driving legislation.

GEM road safety officer Neil Worth said: “The Highway Code tells us that we must avoid distractions such as eating and drinking when we are driving. That’s because anything that takes our attention away from the driving task will increase our risk of collision.

“However, too many drivers don’t see it as a problem to unwrap a pasty, sip a scalding hot coffee or glug from a large juice carton on a journey.

“Driving is a complex enough task already. So trying to do anything else at the same time just makes the journey riskier because we’re not fully focused on the driving task.”

Worth said that in the event of an emergency situation, a driver eating or drinking was likely to react more slowly because their attention was elsewhere, and they would also have the problem of handling the food or drink item while reacting.

He added: “Good, experienced drivers accept that eating and drinking at the wheel are dangerous, so they won’t allow these distractions to compromise safety.”