Is It Illegal to Eat While Driving in Indiana?
We've all done it. Heck, I did again a couple of days ago. We're out running errands or it's time for our lunch break, so we head out of the office, run through a fast-food drive-thru, grab a combo meal, and instead of waiting until we get home or back to the office (you don't want it to get cold, right?), we reach into the bag, and grab what we ordered. Then the real fun begins. We take both hands off the wheel while cruising at 50 miles per hour down the road and try to keep the car between the lines by steering with one knee so we can unwrap our sandwich and start chowing down. There's also the added thrill of a game I like to call, "Can I Eat This Burrito Without Getting Any of It on My Pants?" But, by doing that, are we breaking an Indiana law?
Is It Illegal to Eat and Drive in Indiana?
Technically, no. By that I mean there is no written law on the books stating that you cannot eat while operating a moving vehicle. So, technically, you could eat a Thanksgiving meal in your lap while cruising down the highway if you wanted to. I don't recommend it, but you could and a law enforcement officer couldn't do anything about it.
Now then, while eating and driving aren't against the law, if it affects how well you maintain control of your vehicle, that's how you risk seeing red and blue lights in your rearview mirror.
According to The Barnes Firm, citing a study by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, a driver is three times more likely to be in an accident while eating or drinking, and eating or drinking while driving increases the chances of getting in a car accident by 80%.
Indiana Distracted Driving Laws
Here's how Indiana defines distracted driving:
Distracted driving is any non-driving activity a motorist engages in that has the potential to distract him or her from the primary task of driving.
The state goes on to list a variety of activities that could cause a driver to lose focus on their primary responsibility while behind the wheel — operating it safely. The list includes using a cell phone (Indiana is a "hands-free" state), talking to passengers, personal grooming, and yes, eating.
So, feel free to try an inhale that combo meal before you get back to the office or the next stop on your errand list, but know that if it leads to you struggling to keep your car between the lines or results in you causing an accident, it could turn out to be a very expensive meal.
[Sources: The Barnes Firm / IN.gov]