Is Eating While Driving Legal in Arizona?

Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car accidents in the United States. In Arizona specifically, distracted driving causes 11% of all crashes. Unlike DUI laws, Arizona is one of few states that does not have extensive regulations for distracted driving, along with Montana and South Carolina. However, distracted driving is still extremely dangerous, and drivers should avoid it whenever possible. Some of the most common distractions include cell phones, eating and drinking, adjusting a GPS, or outside distractions like construction or billboards.

The Prominence of Outside Distractions

When many people think about distracted drivers, they think about people using their cell phones. Though cell phone use is a serious issue, outside distractions are also a common cause for distracted driving in Arizona. Some outside distractions that are the most hazardous for drivers are billboards and construction sites. Arizona has many construction sites, especially in the cities. Drivers sometimes slow down to try and determine what is going on or because they are curious about other factors. Drivers distracted by construction sites are more likely to make a mistake on the road and cause a serious accident. Additionally, sudden shifts in speed are dangerous for drivers around the slowing car because they need to quickly react to the situation.

Billboards have a similar effect. A driver may take his or her eyes off the road to read an interesting billboard nearby. If another car happens to change lanes in front of the distracted driver, a serious accident could occur because the driver reading the billboard may not be able to slow down or adjust in time. It is important to either not look at the billboards or to only briefly glance at them before bringing your eyes back to the road.

Other Common Distractions, Other Than Your Meal

The other most common distractions for drivers occur inside the car. One of the distractions inside the car can be drinking or eating. Most drivers do not realize how dangerous it is to try and focus on eating food while simultaneously safely navigating the road. Though there is no specific law in Arizona about eating and driving, it can cause serious accidents.

Some of the other distractions that frequently affect drivers include:

  • Adjusting the radio
  • Programming a GPS
  • Adjusting the heat or air conditioning
  • Putting on make-up
  • Visiting with passengers

Taking your eyes off the road for even a second can lead to a severe, possibly fatal crash. Even if you think you can effectively multi-task, you cannot. It will impact your focus and reaction time, which is extremely dangerous while operating a vehicle.

Current Efforts to Regulate Distracted Driving in Arizona

Most states have strict regulations about cell phone use, banning texting or calling or both. The only cell phone law the state of Arizona has is that school bus drivers cannot use their phones while working. Because it is a primary law, police officers can pull over bus drivers without any other reason if they believe the bus driver is using his or her cell phone. Though there is not a state-wide law that covers all drivers, the city of Phoenix prohibits using your cell phone while driving, and any drivers texting could pay a fine between $100 and $250.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety is recommending that Arizona uses a current law to regulate cell phone use. Arizona has a statute that bans driving at speeds that are unreasonable or hazardous. Because the only reasonable speed for a driver to text is zero miles per hour, the court could charge someone who is texting while driving under the speed statute.