Driving While Eating Ban Will Give You Road Rage

driving while eatingI like to think of myself as a responsible driver. Doesn't everybody? I never text when I'm behind the wheel. I use the speakerphone on the rare occasions when I talk on the phone. And I always, always, always check my mirrors and signal before I change lanes. But then again, when it comes to eating while driving, I am guilty, guilty, guilty.

And now one Illinois city is trying to tell me that shoving my hand into a baggie of bagel chips on the way to drop the kid at school makes me a bad driver. Oak Park wants to become the first city in the country to place an official ban on eating and drinking when you're behind the wheel. They must be stopped! At all costs!


Just imagine if this idea catches on. McDonald's and Wendy's across the land will have to board up their drive through windows! OK, maybe that's not such a bad idea. Scratch that, reverse it. Moms across the land will never have another morning meal again!

I mean it. As a working mother, I can't begin to tell you how dangerous I am without my morning dose of caffeine. Tell me I can't drink in the car, and you, my friend, might as well peel my sleeping body off the steering wheel. It's hard enough getting a 6-year-old up, dressed, fed, groomed and into the car on a good morning. Now you expect me to actually find time to eat . . . or get behind the wheel with a serious case of hunger pains?

It turns out Oak Park isn't just full of meanie legislators. They say they've got a good reason for kicking our coffee cups to the curb: there are studies out there about the risks of munching and steering. Some say that as much as 80 percent of accidents are caused by distracted drivers, and insurance companies complain that hungry ones are just about the worst. Although, ironically, it seems most of the damage from eaters is in their OWN cars, where people just love to spill their coffee. As a not-so-proud owner of a car with stained fabric seats, I can attest to that. And I don't care. That's my re-sale problem, not the cops'.

Now consider this. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration figures claim that show that statistic is way off. They blame only about 16 percent of crashes on "distraction." And yet, 72 percent of people admit to eating while driving. That's a pretty big number when compared to the number of car accidents in the country. It would seem most people manage to do it without hurting anyone (well, aside from their seats).

Do you think we need a law banning us from eating or drinking while driving? Would this change your lifestyle?


Image via junkmonkey/Flickr

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