Video: the inevitable "eating while driving" thread

The days of worrying about getting a ticket for driving while intoxicated, impaired, drinking a beer or smoking a joint are behind us. Everyone knows you can’t do it, and if you do you pretty much deserve what you get. So what will traffic cops do to occupy their time now? (When they’re not dodging bullets from protesters, that is.) Cobb County, Georgia is leading the way in creative driver supervision by breaking new ground and handing out a ticket for eating a McDonald’s burger behind the wheel.

An Alabama man says he was cited by Cobb County police for “eating while driving” under the distracted driving law.

Madison Turner said he ordered a double quarter pounder with cheese from McDonald’s last week, and a police officer pulled him over, along Canton Road in Marietta.

“The officer explained to me that he observed me eating a burger for 2 miles,” Madison said. “He said specifically three times, you can’t just go down the road eating a hamburger.”

According to the ticket, the officer wrote him up under Georgia’s distracted driving law, and under the comments sections wrote “eating while driving.”

The immediate response of they can’t do that has a number of problems. Traffic laws are one of those areas where state and local governments are granted great swaths of latitude in how they handle such questions. I suppose if they wanted to pass a local ordinance against eating while driving they could, but did they? The law currently on the books there is rather generic, talking about distracted driving and stating that the driver shall not engage in any actions which shall distract such driver from the safe operation of such vehicle.

As radio host Michael Graham points out, that covers a lot of territory.

Uh…OK. But couldn’t “any actions which shall distract” include eating ANYTHING? A candy bar, a banana or (my favorite) a box of Bojange’s bites?

And why stop at eating? Drinking coffee, particularly hot coffee, requires a bit of attention. So does opening a screw-top bottle of soda.

And what about that cigarette? Or that radio knob you keep fiddling with? Or the conversation with your passengers?


The driver is going to court to fight the ticket and assert the rights of citizens to enjoy some delicious fast food while motoring down the highway. I’m fairly sure that’s not a “right” per say, and as to how “delicious” some of that fast food is… well, there’s no accounting for taste. But that law looks awfully vague to me. If you’re going to restrict a set of actions in the interest of public safety I believe that drivers deserve a specific set of prohibited acts so they know to avoid them. And we’re not just talking about cell phones here. Can the police pull over every woman who is using the rear view mirror to fix her makeup on the way into the office or brushing her hair? And as Graham pointed out, what about coffee in a travel mug?

Here’s the video report. I’m sure you’ll be enlightened by this critical issue of public interest.

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