Dangerous Drive-Thrus and Laws Justifying Laws


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Yesterday I got a comment on my story, The Sacred Rules of the Drive-Thru, disagreeing with my idea that banning bicycles and pedestrians at drive-thrus is counter-productive to safety and that there are moral issues with the fact that they are promoting drunk driving. After reading it, I realized that I’d forgotten to add a link to the blog post I made about it, which kind of addresses a couple of her points. Anyway, I felt her thoughts did a good job of illustrating how many people perceive law and order and how it relates to our moral values. I know it’s kind of a mundane subject and nothing to get upset about, but I felt it was a great opportunity to show the difference in my own anarchistic way of thinking with a topic that’s not too offensive for either perspective. So here’s her comment:

i’m sorry but i disagree. It is dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists to be in the drivethru, and it isn’t the restaurant’s problem if the person is drunk or doesn’t have a car, they are a business and so it is in their best interests to obey their insurance rules….much more important than a drunk’s measly ten dollars and need to eat. I don’t have a car but i dont go screaming discriminatiom when i can’t have a big mac at 2am….i either make sure i have food in the house or go without.

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Okay, first you say that it is dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists to be in a drive-thru. I did a Google search and couldn’t find a single instance of someone being hurt in a drive-thru, but did find a number of instances of drive-thrus allowing pedestrians and bicyclists. I’ve been through hundreds of drive-thrus and never seen so much a dented bumper. What is your “drive-thrus are dangerous” theory based on? Have you seen statistics about this, or witnessed accidents?

What I think is that in cases like this people are likely to believe something is dangerous based on the laws surrounding it, rather than on actual statistics or things they’ve seen. It doesn’t make logical sense that something would be banned if it wasn’t problematic, so we assume that it is, and the idea is just kind of drilled into our minds. (We see the same thing, of course, with marijuana. The vast majority of people who are opposed to marijuana know little to nothing about it and are just running under the assumption that our laws know what they’re doing.)

People get injured doing just about anything and I doubt that a pedestrian in a drive-thru would be much more dangerous than a pedestrian crossing an intersection, and certainly not as dangerous as a bicyclist riding through the city. Countless other things in our society are more dangerous than a pedestrian in a drive-thru. That doesn’t give us the right to ban them unless they’re putting someone else at risk.

Then you’ve got the argument that these slight dangers could be mitigated with policies, warning signs or a number of other things. The only time the foot-customer would need to be in the line would be when ordering and picking up. He could stand to the side the rest of the time.

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Then you state, “it isn’t the restaurant’s problem if the person is drunk”. Well, this is true from a legal standpoint, but I’m an anarchist and I think and write about stuff from a moral perspective, not a legal one. If you have a friend who is totally drunk and decides to go drive, it’s certainly not your legal responsibility to stop him, but is it the moral thing to do? It’s not illegal to ask him to drive to get more beer, but is it the right thing to do? Doesn’t it seem like you should do the right thing, even though it’s not legally required of you? By this same token, shouldn’t businesses do the right thing and do their small part to prevent drunk driving? Why are businesses exempt from this sense of moral obligation? It seems like in our society, all expectations of a moral code are out the window as soon as you’re doing something that makes you or your investors money. Suddenly the only thing that matters is law. This, I believe illuminates one of the fundamental flaws in capitalism, or at the very least, the way we currently run capitalism.

Next you wrote, “they are a business and so it is in their best interests to obey their insurance rules.” This is certainly true, and admittedly if I owned a drive-thru there is a chance that I would be a hypocrite to everything I’m saying for my own financial best interests. I’m not faulting the restaurant owners for this. I’m faulting the fundamental ways that our laws and capitalism function. This is the overall point I was trying to make. These rules are based on insurance policies and fear of getting sued, not on actual safety. They tell us it’s for our safety to keep people like me from getting pissed off, but in reality, they just don’t want to get sued. The fact they don’t refuse service to drunk drivers is pretty good evidence they’re not concerned about safety directly.

So this is basically a law justifying another law. The rules of the insurance company dictate the rules the customers must follow at the drive-thru, and those insurance company rules were dictated by even bigger rules about who can sue who over what, which in turn were dictated by the rules of capitalism and exchange of money. Rules based on rules based on rules in a self-perpetuating cascade until we’ve lost touch with our moral values and the reasons why we even had rules in the first place.

The laws of our society should be dictated by our lifestyles, situations, and moral values; not the other way around.

5 thoughts on “Dangerous Drive-Thrus and Laws Justifying Laws”

  1. I went through a drive thru last night on my bike and wasnt a person in sight i agree with kalin these rules are based on human beliefs and have nothing to do with actual laws the only way a drive through can be dangerous is if the company makes it that way

  2. I am an attorney. Client walks out of Wendy’s to her car parked in handicapped parking. She has to cross the path of drive through. She gets hit and suffers serious brain injury. Anybody heard of a situation such as this. Marty Price martyprice@ martyprice.com

  3. My question is simple…… who is speeding so fast through a drive thru anyway that they can’t see a pedestrian? But even better than that…..How many restaurants have a walkway crossing the drive thru lane? Isn’t that as dangerous?.

    1. Yes very dangerous I’m on this site to try to prevent or find the law on walking thru the drive thru to enter the resturant I have small kids a car wouldn’t be able to see it is taking a risk everytime I go to get a burger their is no crosswalk just a drive thru lane that’s how you enter it.

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