We all should know that a package of raw chicken forgotten overnight on a kitchen counter will become a dangerous food. We also likely know that blowfish is risky, able to kill its ingesters if improperly prepared. But a clean, well-made cup of coffee? Dangerous? As it turns out, it's all about where you drink it.

The folks at Insure.com, who focus on the exciting arena of insurance, earlier this year released a list of "The 10 Most Dangerous Foods to Eat." OK, that title actually included these words at the end: "While Driving." Still, danger is danger.

Their intent was to publicize how dangerous it can be to drive while eating and/or drinking. And we're not talking alcohol here -- coffee was No. 1 on the list, followed by hot soup. Before I share the list with you, here are some sobering statistics:

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found that distractions in cars cause about 25% of car crashes. The Response Insurance Agency surveyed drivers in 2000, finding that eating while driving was the No. 2 driving distraction (after fiddling with the radio and before turning to chat with passengers). Some 57% of drivers admitted to eating and driving. A 2001 survey of ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) drivers found that nearly three-quarters eat while driving, up from 58% in 1995. A whopping 83% drink non-alcoholic beverages while driving. Some research suggests that dealing with spills and messes is even more troublesome than eating or drinking. Either way, dining at the wheel clearly leads to a lot of trouble.

Here is Insure.com's list of the top offenders:

  1. Coffee
  2. Hot soup
  3. Tacos
  4. Chili
  5. Hamburgers
  6. Barbecued food
  7. Fried chicken
  8. Jelly or cream-filled donuts
  9. Soft drinks
  10. Chocolate

This issue is a big deal. It doesn't just cause damage or death -- it costs us all money. More accidents mean that either we or insurance companies are picking up the tab. Insurance companies are aware of the problem and are looking into what they might do about it.

You can learn more about the less-dangerous-but-still-critical topic of insurance in our Insurance Center. You may not have thought about some kinds of insurance, such as disability or long-term care insurance, but they're vital for many people. And, of course, properly insuring your property is vital, too. Take a little time to learn more. You may be very happy you did, especially if some calamity occurs in the future.

Here's a few to get you started:

And if you're in the market for insurance, another way to inform yourself about options is to spend some time at the websites of insurance companies. Some of the top insurers are:

  • American International Group (NYSE:AIG)
  • Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-A)
  • UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH)
  • WellPoint (NYSE:WLP)
  • MetLife (NYSE:MET)
  • Allstate
  • Prudential Financial
  • St. PaulTravelers
  • Aetna
  • Hartford Financial Services

This article was originally published on May 2, 2005.

Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. UnitedHealth is a Stock Advisor and Inside Value pick. Berkshire Hathaway is an Inside Value recommendation. The Fool has a disclosure policy.