Hungry for clarity in distracted driving debate

distracted by chipsSomething’s eating at me.

You may have heard that Oak Park, Ill., is considering a ban on eating while driving. Yes, that and sipping on drinks and putting on makeup and … texting and cell phone use.

“This isn’t government overreach; this is the government protecting people,” said Oak Park village trustee Colette Lueck, who floated the idea in the middle of debate over texting and handheld cell phones.

Actually, that would be government overreach.

Lueck, apparently, is dead serious. And the media has lapped up the story about banning eating while driving.

Critics of electronic distracted driving legislation — those addressing use of wireless communications devices — often cite “putting on make-up” or “eating while driving” as candidates for governmental sanctions. One guy brought up nose-picking.

These critics by and large are not serious. They argue against electronic distracted driving restrictions by summoning up specious dangers.

Last March, this blog reported the following exchange in Maryland’s distracted driving debate, after state Sen. Allan Kittleman playfully proposed a law against eating and while driving.

“You can’t tell me it is more safe to hold some French fries and a Big Mac and Coke than it is to look down and read some text messages,” Kittleman said to the sponsor of an anti-texting bill.

Sen. James Brochin, responded, dryly: “Eating is not a cerebral event. You just do it.”

What’s the harm in a larger debate?

Electronic distracted driving laws send a clear message about clear and present dangers brought on by a technological sea change. Diluting society’s directive that text messaging and operating mobile phones are potentially deadly behaviors can only add to the sickening body count. Young, inexperienced drivers don’t deal well with ambiguity and gray areas.

Newspapers nationwide are not printing obituaries for victims of drivers lost in enjoyment of their Slurpees. Safety experts do not come to high schools to demonstrate to students that they are impaired when changing radio stations. Putting on make-up has never been researched as a dangerous addictive habit.

Well-meaning legislators should focus on electronic distracted driving and leave the everyday inattentive behaviors to police and safety educators.

The current national debate needs to be about texting & talking while behind the wheel. Period.

As with driving, focus is everything.

Comments

  1. Years ago, I was driving home late night on 495. It was sleet and snowy outside. I had a KIT-KAT bar, and went to unwrap it. My Car went into a spin 3 times. My chocolate bar went to the back seat. I was shaken, but nobody else or myself were injured. … Years later what have I learned? I no-longer eat KIT-KAT bars when behind the wheel. (actually haven’t eaten one since) … Oh I don’t eat anything when I drive, and avoid fumbling with the controls on my my vehicle when in motion. … Cell Phone? Don’t know what that is when I drive.

  2. If this is not our government overreach I don’t know what is! why don’t they make a law in every state aginst all the drivethrogh restaurants that will end 1 problem right there O ya I know why not its all about the $$$$$$$$$$$$$ oops, maybe people don;t want to live longer there is not much to live for anymore this Country has gone to Hell and our Gov. has to much to say about what we can do and can’t do
    They all blew all our $$$$$$$ on things we did not need and they should be ashame of them self ‘s we need to fire them all and get all new people in there.

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