Drinking and Eating While Driving

How food & drink consumption will change with driverless cars

As a species we eat, we sleep, we reproduce, we cleanse, we exercise. Unfortunately, almost none of those basic human functions can be performed while driving a moving vehicle.

It’s really quite a limitation.

At best, we can minimally drink and eat while driving (well, only certain types of beverages). Consuming food while driving is limited by the fact that we must both concentrate on the road and use, at least, one of our hands to steer.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, among the ten most dangerous types of food to consume while driving are: jelly doughnuts, fried chicken, chili, tacos, soup, soft drinks and chocolate.

Really? Seems like the NHTSA is thinking inside a very small box. It seems to only list foods that people would reasonably attempt to eat while driving. Certainly, trying to cut a steak, dip a fondue, eat off a hibachi, swirl spaghetti, crack into a crab or do a keg stand are more dangerous. But, those are so far outside the realm of possible, the NHTSA didn’t even consider them dangerous.

And therein lies the future opportunity.

Related: Self-Driving Cars Explained

Discovering the Ideal Driving Food

Given the limitations of being a driver, a whole science has grown around defining foods that can easily be consumed while driving. Famously, Harvard Professor Clayton Christiansen and his team climbed into the heads of consumers and identified the ideal driving food.

A milkshake.

Christensen and his team determined that many American drivers “hire” a milkshake to perform certain tasks for them during their morning commute. Milkshakes can be drunk with one hand (leaving the other free to steer), are thick enough to last a whole commute, taste both sweet and healthy, fit conveniently into the car’s cup-holder, fill you up and – if it has fruit chunks in it – offers a sensory thrill that breaks up a boring, routine drive. It also is consumed with a straw, allowing the eyes to stay glued to the road.

By unlocking this sublime truth, Christensen was able to significantly increase his client’s share of the fast food market. But, like the NHTSA, he, too, was thinking inside a box. He was a prisoner of the limitations of being a driver.

Rib-eye steaks easily taste better than the finest milkshake. Pizza is a better comfort food. But neither fits well with the need to keep eyes, hands, brain and feet fully engaged in the task of driving.

Improving the Ideal Driving Food

Which is why self-driving cars will open a world of gastric delights.

Because, unlike trains and planes, cars do not need to be isolated from the surrounding world. They can stop at the nearest gourmet location to fill the vehicle with mouth-watering, two-hands-required delights.

And, so, with self-driving cars, we can finally step outside that box. No longer will we be prisoners to the demands of being an alert and responsive driver. Which — at present — means, literally, being locked in, staring ahead and trying hard not to be distracted. Instead, we’ll be free to engage in many of the behaviors that make us human. And still get to our destination safely.

Eating and drinking – for sure – will be released from the buckled-up, hands-on-the-wheel, gotta-pay-attention prison. We’ll be able to finally replicate the joy of fine dining and drinking, while still cruising to our terminus.

Related: Car Interiors Will Be More Like Living Rooms

Think Railroad Dining Cars

The model for this are the railroads of old. Hundreds of passengers could sit on linen-covered tables, sip fine wine, use all the utensils in a drawer and feast on the best creations that chefs could cook up. It was called “The Golden Age of Railroad Dining,” and some of the country’s best chefs plied their trade in the dining cars. All it required was having a few engineers in the locomotive who kept the trains running.

Today, those engineers are computer chips. And soon, they’ll help us enter the “The Golden Age of Autonomous Vehicle Dining.” Sure, it doesn’t have the same ring and romance of trains. But the effect will be similar.

Fold-down car tables now only come in a few, high-end luxury models – Rolls Royce, Jaguar, Maybach, S Class Mercedes and limousines…. where it’s assumed someone else is driving. And even for those, those tables are only in the rear seat.

But with 28 percent of Dryve readers telling us their favorite new thing to do in a self-driving car will be eating and drinking, it won’t be long until even Toyotas have fold-down tables.

And what we’ll eat on them!

Sirloins that require both knife and fork. Ramen soups eaten with both spoons and chopsticks.  Fine wines that can be sniffed, swirled and sipped. Lava cake – enjoyed, goo and all. Even Jell-O for dessert, because it can’t jiggle away from you.

In a Pavlovian way, one day we’ll likely involuntarily salivate when the ignition key turns on. Because our taste buds will know they’re in for a treat. And it ain’t just a milkshake.

What are you craving to eat or drink in your new driverless car?

Comments & thoughts to: cb@dryve.com


 Article written by: Charles Bogle 3.0

 Submitted: May 19, 2017


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