Why can’t the US president drive, officially? Or is it not official? What steps could be taken to allow this action.

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    That’s nothing, one Australian PM fought bushfires while he was PM, though some complained about what it’d mean for his security detail.
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Sep 11, 2019 at 6:01
  • 4
    Of interest: youtube.com/watch?v=UM-Q_zpuJGU&t=17m23s, though not on public roads so probably doesn't count. Commented Sep 11, 2019 at 21:56
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    @DigitalTrauma also note at around 4:50 and 18:15 when they try to leave the grounds.
    – phoog
    Commented Sep 12, 2019 at 5:21
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    youtube.com/watch?v=Z3p9y_OEAdc&t=11s as you can see here, GWB was not prohibited from driving either Commented Sep 12, 2019 at 17:30
  • It was reported that Lyndon Johnson would sometimes lead the Secret Service on a chase through the back roads of Texas.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Sep 12, 2019 at 22:02

4 Answers 4


Legally, nothing prevents the U.S. president from performing ordinary activities.

In practice, U.S. presidents try to avoid doing things (like driving) that make it harder for the Secret Service to protect the president. But if a president insists on doing something (such as riding a horse on a remote ranch, or cutting brush with a chainsaw on a large ranch), the Secret Service will accommodate him. Where possible, arrangements will be made so that the president can perform his hobby (such as jogging) in a securable location (such as a custom-built White House jogging track, or a university athletic field). The Secret Service will even arrange for its agents to be trained in a hobby (such as horse-back riding) to be able to provide the best possible support for the president.

Also, there are benefits to a president from letting someone else drive. He can read through notes, make telephone calls, or sit back and relax. The driver will be a professional who knows how to handle a variety of emergency situations. Also, the driver can handle any worries about making the route unpredictable.

  • Will they accommodate a female president too? ;-) +1 (which takes you to 100 and your first Gold Answer badge. Congrats) Commented Nov 26, 2023 at 23:32

@Jasper's answer does a good job of explaining, but just to mention that the "no driving" rule also applies to Ex-Presidents.

From NBC:

That's because current and former presidents and vice presidents are not allowed to operate motor vehicles on the open road.

For security reasons, high profile government officials and former officials, like Barack Obama and Joe Biden, as well as both Bill and Hillary Clinton, have to rely on their appointed secret service teams, who are trained in "evasive and defensive driving maneuvers."

The assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963 was a turning point in this lifetime security requirement. Lyndon Johnson was the last president to drive on public roads.

Though the rule is not law, it's highly enforced by the secret service and all parties seem to adhere.

And a blurb from BBC

...US presidents and former presidents are not allowed to drive on public roads...

And miscellaneous quotes from current and former Presidents and Vice-Presidents:

Bush, 67, whose main residence now is in Dallas, auctioned the 2009 Ford F-150 King Ranch 4x4 SuperCrew for charity for $300,000 in January, saying in a statement that he hadn't driven on a public road for "many, many years." ...

Biden, 71, hasn't given up completely on the idea that he'll one day drive again. He owns a 1967 Chevrolet Corvette, a green convertible with a 327-cubic-inch engine and side exhaust pipes. He told "Car and Driver" magazine in 2011 that being banned from driving is "the one thing I hate about this job." ...

"One of the regrets I have about public life is that I can't drive anymore," Hillary Clinton told the National Automobile Dealers Association in January. Bill Clinton has shared the same sentiment.

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    Meanwhile, I understand that the Queen of England drives all the time, and she's reportedly a demon behind the wheel, too. (Though possibly not on public roads...) Commented Sep 12, 2019 at 16:40
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    @DarrelHoffman To be fair, every road is her private road.
    – pipe
    Commented Sep 12, 2019 at 18:12
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    @DarrelHoffman, indeed, not on public roads. And her consort surrendered his driving licence recently after an accident. Commented Sep 13, 2019 at 10:27

As BruceWayne points out, there's no law preventing the president from driving. It's just a really bad idea. If you watch the Zapruder film, you'll see why anybody driving the president needs split-second response times. JFK's armored car appears to slow down momentarily after the first shot is fired, which kept the president in the line of fire. Watch the Reagan shooting tape if you want to see how much the Secret Service improved in a few years. Every single agent knew exactly what to do, including throwing Reagan in the limo and driving fast to GW Hospital.

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    JFK's "armored car" wasn't exactly the safest vehicle to begin with, since it was an open-topped convertible, such that Kennedy and the other VIPs in the car were fully visible to (and unprotected from) the crowd. The driver slowing down was the least of his problems... Commented Sep 12, 2019 at 16:32
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    @DarrelHoffman It wasn't that bad of a car. After the assassination, the Secret Service sent it back to the builder for a permanent roof and other upgrades, after which it went back into service. I saw it in Michigan. Removing the roof was a last-minute decision based on the improving weather conditions in Dallas. A little rain would have changed history. Commented Sep 12, 2019 at 18:38
  • A little rain might have helped The Umbrella Man keep a lower profile… en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umbrella_man_(JFK_assassination) Commented Sep 13, 2019 at 1:39

Another reason to keep "important" people from driving is to keep them from having car accidents. In February 1977, Rene Levesque, then premier of the province of Quebec (in Canada) was driving home from a late night poker game. He hit a homeless person on the road, killing him. That was the last time a Quebec premier was allowed to drive.

Ref: https://beverlyakerman.blogspot.com/2012/11/quebec-corruption-lets-not-forget-rene.html The best quote from that posting:

"Quebec is the only place in the world where it is the victim who is given the blood test," a former provincial Liberal minister dryly commented.

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    I don't know whether a governor of a state in the U.S. is an "important" person, but when the eccentric Rudy Perpich was governor of Minnesota, there were several occasions when he went missing and nobody knew where he was. On each such occasion he had driven, alone, to some location within the state that was some hours drive from the capital (i.e. from St. Paul). It wasn't like that time when the governor of South Carolina drove alone to Atlanta and flew to Argentina after telling people he would be hiking in a national park in Georgia. Commented Sep 13, 2019 at 2:50
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    Another "important" person who recently had a car accident was the Duke of Edinburgh.
    – Andy
    Commented Sep 13, 2019 at 17:33
  • A buddy of mine claims he was almost ran over by the late John McCain while riding his bicycle in Washington DC. McCain was in his late 70s at the time.
    – ventsyv
    Commented Sep 13, 2019 at 19:53

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