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Lifestyle Guides

How getting behind the wheel while hungry affects your driving

Caution sign

Warning hangry drivers!

Busy lifestyles and diets can result in people skipping meals. Research by Admiral Car Insurance shows why this is a bad idea and could affect how well you drive. Britain’s hungry drivers are hangry, and it affects how they drive, putting themselves and other road users at risk.

We asked Dr Lisa Dorn, Professor of Driver Behaviour at Cranfield University, why skipping meals is never a good idea for drivers:

"One of the worst habits to avoid is skipping breakfast before driving as this will raise your blood sugar and lead to low energy levels - your reaction times will be much slower and this can affect your ability to respond to hazards on the road which could have potentially dangerous consequences.

"Eating also puts you in a better mood behind the wheel which is better and safer not just for yourself but for other drivers too."

What you eat before a journey can affect your driving ability too. Dr Dorn advises against only having a coffee:

"It’s important not to rely on caffeine to keep you alert when driving. Instead, make sure you get plenty of sleep as a coffee isn’t a like-for-like substitute.

"We’ve all experienced that lethargic feeling after eating too much unhealthy food but research has shown that eating the wrong types of food and drink can also affect your driving abilities, impacting your mood and increasing driver fatigue which can have a negative effect on drivers’ behaviour.

"Much like a car, when you eat the right diet your body gets the fuel it needs to manage your energy levels properly. If you put the wrong fuel in your car it can go horribly wrong, but the same applies to humans when it comes to fuel from food.

"A 100-200 calorie mid-morning snack on a two-hour drive can boost your energy levels and driving performance until lunchtime. You should avoid eating a heavy lunch as this can make you feel even more drowsy behind the wheel in the afternoon.

"Stick to wholegrains, lean meats, low-fat dairy products, fruit and vegetables instead if you want to stay alert. For snacks, fruit and oat-based snacks which are low in calories and high in nutrients are best for concentration.

"These healthy habits will keep your energy levels within a safe range and help your mental functioning while driving."

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