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Motorist Busted For Eating a Hamburger: Should Eating Count as a Distracted Driving Offense?

Motorist Busted For Eating a Hamburger: Should Eating Count as a Distracted Driving Offense?

Most of us are familiar with the laws and campaigns aimed at making the roads safer by getting drivers to stop texting and talking on their phones while driving. But what about eating food on the go? Many of us wouldn’t think twice about munching on a breakfast sandwich while driving to work, but is it really safe?

The New York Times reports about an Alabama man’s run-in with the Georgia highway patrol after he was pulled over for snacking on a hamburger while driving. Driver H. Madison Turner explains how the officer justified giving him a ticket for eating behind the wheel. Turner says, “He said specifically three times, ‘You can’t just drive down the road eating a hamburger.”

Apparently Turner believes he can in fact drive down the road while eating hamburgers and plans to contest the ticket in court. The whole incident begs the question of how police should enforce “distracted driving” laws and whether eating should count as an offense.

In Turner’s case the Georgia law states, “A driver shall exercise due care in operating a motor vehicle on the highways of this state and shall not engage in any actions which shall distract such driver from the safe operation of such vehicle.” Though the wording of this law is vague enough to justify officers pulling over any motorist whose hands are not at 10 and 2, simple distractions like changing music or spilling a soda are enough to lead to a deadly accident.

The Maryland Highway Safety Office points out on its website that cellphones are not the only dangerous distractions on the road. The office explains, “While many recent campaigns focus on cellphone use, traditional interruptions such as changing the music, eating or settling arguments between children can be just as distracting, and just as deadly.”

What do you think of this case where a man was ticketed for eating while driving?

How do you limit distractions while driving?
 

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  • ladykalous By ladykalous
    01.27.15  

    So does this mean we should leave our children at home since they are a distraction too? Hmm How will he explain that one?

  • lbjones89 By lbjones89
    01.27.15  

    you can try to be perfect but what if youre a diabetic and you need to reach in your purse for gum or crackers

  • kuchick By kuchick
    01.27.15  

    soooo if I have learned anything in the last few months it is when there are laws made someone has to enforce them- so a cop sees me chumping on a piece of gum is he going to legally need to pull me over to make sure I am not eating? I mean seriously the officer has to wait in his car for tags to clear before he can get out of his car- by then if I WAS eating something I could scarf it down??!!? sounds kind of ridiculous to me and much to hard to enforce.

  • JustMissAsh By JustMissAsh
    01.29.15  

    I could understand if the person was swerving, or running lights, or speeding, etc and showing signs of distraction. But if the officer just happened to see the man esting and driving, but not necessarily showing signs of distraction, then I think this is Ridiculous. Part of my job includes driving from place to place to meet clients, all day long, as well as picking up and dropping off kids at schools and daycare, and running errands. I don't usually have time in my day to stop somewhere to eat, so I eat while I drive too.

  • JustMissAsh By JustMissAsh
    01.29.15  

    I am mindful of what I choose to eat while driving though. Usually sandwiches, hamburgers, or chicken strips or nuggets, or something easy. But the vagueness of the law provides police with the ability to exploit it as they wish, or give tickets to people for reasons that may not be as good as they want. I am also the daughter of a retired sheriff, who worked for 33+ years. I have heard stories and seen police do things I do not approve of or agree with, but if they felt in their heart that it was the right thing to do, then maybe it was. They have video footage they can use to show what they saw when following the person they oulled over. We aren't seeing that, just hearing the story of this person. Maybe he was being erratic and dangerous, maybe he wasn't. But we have police so we have someone who we trust to uphold the law and maintain the safety of everyone. So who knows what really happened, but hopefully whatever does, I hope it's fair.

  • kkenty By kkenty
    03.16.15  

    Children should be taken to police headquarters and left so they won't be a distraction!! HA!HA! This is ridiculous unless the person is swerving all over the road or speeding!! Officers should have better things to do, like catch real criminals!

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