Shift

Past presidents agree, this surprising rule is one of the worst parts of running the country

On tonight's season three premiere of CNBC's "Jay Leno's Garage," former President George W. Bush revealed to host Jay Leno that he hasn't driven a car on a public road in nearly 25 years.

Maneuvering around the Bush family's Texas ranch in his Ford F150 pickup — which he later auctioned off for $300,000 for charity — Bush 43 explained to the late night icon that he can cruise his private property (including a 90-acre tree farm), and that's about it.

The premiere of "Jay Leno's Garage" season 3 featured a familiar face: George W. Bush.
The premiere of "Jay Leno's Garage" season 3 featured a familiar face: George W. Bush.

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.

Ronald Reagan famously cherished joyrides in his beloved Jeep on his own ranch but was forbidden from claiming the driver's seat for highway drives.

And then-President Barack Obama told NBC's "The Tonight Show" in 2012 that he's only gone as far as a few circles around the South Lawn behind the wheel of a Chevy Volt.

As for former Vice President Biden, he had the audience of the 2014 United Auto Workers conference in stitches when he lodged his complaint against the policy.

"There are a lot of reasons to run for president, but there's one overwhelming reason not to run for president," he joked. "I like to get that [Corvette] Z06 from zero to 60 in 3.4 seconds."

Biden appeared on the last season of "Jay Leno's Garage."

CNBC's "Jay Leno's Garage" airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET.