Is Driving While Eating The New Driving While Texting?

January 22, 2015

Cheeseburgers and steering wheels are a dangerous combination -- at least that's what one resident of Cobb County, Georgia was told when he was ticketed for eating while driving.

Madison Turner was doing what many folks do every week: juggling the demands of two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, a sesame-seed bun, and brakes. That's when an unnamed police officer decided that Mr. Turner's eating habits posed a threat to himself and other motorists, in violation of the county's distracted driving law.

Was the officer right? Mr. Turner admits that he may have been "enjoying the burger too much. I needed to tone it down". (Whatever that means. Probably best not to dwell on it.)

However, Turner's lawyer, William Head, is optimistic that his client's ticket will be tossed when they go before a judge on February 3: "There was no accident here, so the fact that this man was charged with eating and driving is a first for me." 

OUR TAKE

We've spilled a lot of virtual ink writing about the dangers of distracted driving:

But eating and driving? Almost never.

That's probably because it's so common, and nearly all of us are guilty of it. If we weren't, fast-food restaurants would likely have far fewer pick-up windows. (Ed. note: Here in New Orleans, we even have drive-through daiquiri shops, which get around open container laws by putting a piece of tape over the straw hole. But that's a story for another time.)

If Mr. Turner was driving erratically while going to town on his burger, then yes, the citation should stand. Many commenters on the news article cited above feel the same way.

If he wasn't, though, we'd expect the judge to tear up Turner's ticket. Otherwise, Cobb County's police department will need to hire a small army of officers to enforce local laws.

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