All across the United States, it is illegal to drink and drive. This obviously refers to drinking alcohol beverages before, or whilst operating your vehicle and getting on the road.
Everyone knows this. However, there are a lot of questions and doubts around whether it is illegal to eat and drive.
Across not only the United States, but the entire world, laws around activities whilst driving are becoming stricter and stricter.
It is illegal to text while driving, make a call whilst driving, and you can be cited for being distracted whilst driving. So what are the rules when it comes to eating and driving?
Is it illegal to eat and drive?
Normally, when we get questions about specific laws within the United States, there are a lot of gray areas, as different states have different laws regarding the road.
That being said, currently, there are no laws against eating and driving specifically, but it is not that clear.
Although this news may excite those who love to hop in the car to McDonald’s or Taco Bell and enjoy a few fries whilst driving home, and it is common practice to see drivers next to you eating their breakfast whilst driving to work, or at a red light.
However, this is starting to change. Some states are now including both eating and drinking at the wheel in their citations and statues for distracted driving.
Distracted driving laws
Distracted driving basically means you are doing another activity that may take your attention away from the road, and you will be unable to drive properly and with enough care.
Due to the broad explanation of what distracted driving is, officers can cite you for distracted driving if they feel that you are engaging in an activity that distracts you from the road.
This unfortunately, can include eating whilst driving.
In 2017, in Washington state, drivers were banned from using cellphones in their vehicles, which includes just holding one whilst driving as you would be distracted.
This means that an officer in the state could cite a driver if they witnessed them engaging in such behaviours that can be distracting for them.
In addition, now, eating, smoking, reading, grooming yourself in the mirror is all considered unsafe and can lead to a citation.
However, many states enacted that distracted driving laws are secondary offenses.
Luckily, the GHSA has provided a complete and comprehensive list of distracted driving laws state by state, to help you understand what your legal obligations are in your area.
From looking at the distracted driving laws across the states, the main focus is upon using the phone whilst driving, however this is not to say that you will not be cited for eating whilst driving too.
If you are caught driving erratically, recklessly, distractedly, or without care or caution, and it is also found that you are eating, this could be the reason why you are driving in such a way.
This kind of behaviour can lead to serious consequences, injuries or accidents, and so there could actually be legal repercussions from eating whilst driving.
It has been proved by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that if you take your eyes off the road for just five seconds alone, and you are traveling at 55 miles per hour, then you could travel the length of a football field in just those five seconds.
This is an important statistic to remember because if you are traveling at a speed such as this, and you look away to take a bite of your burger, breakfast or dip some fries, then you can travel a serious distance without paying any attention to the actual road in front of you.
Obviously, this can have disastrous consequences, but also driving whilst eating can lead to you being cited for being distracted whilst driving.
Summary - Is eating whilst driving illegal?
So, is eating whilst driving actually illegal?
Currently, there are no laws against eating whilst driving in the United States, however restrictions are becoming more common, and many states will consider eating whilst driving a danger or a distraction to the driver.
A recent study showed that 1 in 10 people admit to eating whilst driving, but whilst this is not strictly against the law, you can be cited if it is preventing you from giving your full attention to the road, then you can be ticketed for distracted driving.
A study from the CDC showed that 9 people are killed and over 1,000 people are injured every single day because of distracted driving.
This is a very interesting statistic and shows the true effects of what can happen if you take your eyes off the road for any reason whilst operating a vehicle.
This means that whilst you can eat while you drive, and it is not against the law, you can still be pulled over and there could be legal consequences if it is preventing you from having full control over your vehicle.
The main thing that you should remember is that although you may be starving, and those delicious fries are just staring you in the face, it is not worth causing an accident or an injury just because you could not wait to get home to eat.
It is always best to keep your eyes on the road, especially if traveling at great speed, and although eating whilst driving is not strictly illegal, right now, it can be very dangerous.