Is Eating While Driving Illegal?

Woman eating a banana while driwing car on highway with 120 km/h

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Every day, 85 million Americans find themselves at a drive-through.
Grabbing a meal on the go is more natural today than ever before.

Yet, even though eating while driving is the new normal, that doesn’t mean police officers will see it that way. Taking a stand against distracted driving deaths, some States are reevaluating their driving laws.

Can you get a ticket for eating on the road, and is it safe to do so? Read on to find out!

Eating While Driving Laws

Hungry motorists can enjoy chowing down on their favorite meal, as long as they stay in full control of the vehicle. If eating is distracting the driver there could be legal repercussions. For example, if a police officer sees a driver eating a burger, speed through a yield to pedestrian sign, they could still pull you over.

Even though a police officer won’t be able to give you a ticket for your food, they could give you a careless driving ticket. In severe cases, distracted eaters have even received reckless driving tickets.

How Distracted Driving Laws Work

There currently aren’t any states that have specific laws against eating while driving. Instead, drivers often find themselves getting a distracted driver citation. This is especially true in the state of Washington, where distracted driving statutes are now stricter than ever before.

In Washington, if a police officer pulls someone over for careless driving and they’re eating, they can get an additional ticket. One for careless driving, and the other for eating and driving. The citation fines for eating on the road in Washington start at $99 and can go up if other second offenses, like grooming, are taking place.

How Safe Is It to Eat and Drive?

According to the CDC, 9 people lose their lives every day to distracted drivers. Another 1,000 people sustain severe injuries by these distracted drivers. When you’re driving, there are 3 types of distraction a driver can fall victim to.

Here are the 3 types of distractions drivers face:

  1. Eyesight: looking away from the road
  2. Hands: removing your hands from the steering wheel
  3. Focus: Thinking intensely about something other than driving

You have to remove your hands from the wheel to get a bite of your food. So, chances are your road meals are distracting you, at least a little bit.

Avoid Road Hunger

So far, we’ve been discussing how eating while driving works legally, and whether or not it’s safe. Now, you might be wondering how can you get the food you need, and still be a safe driver. After all, sometimes life is hectic, and it’s either fast food or stay hungry.

Our team finds that the best compromise is for drivers to make time for meals. While you might have to quickly eat the meal in your car, we suggest you pull over first before doing so.

Of course, if you’re sick of fast food, you could always invest in a conveniently sized cooler to store home-cooked meals in. Eating meals from home, are a great way to save money, while also guaranteeing you’ll always have tasty food close by.

Need a little inspiration about what type of meals you could cook? Check out our Food section today!

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