An Alabama man, accused of being a careless driver, because he was observed
eating a hamburger while driving, was surprised to learn that his behavior
was illegal. The alleged careless driver, Madison Turner, was caught off
guard when he was pulled over, and the officer told him that "you
just can't go down the road eating a hamburger." Turner was then
cited for driving in an unsafe manner. Surprisingly, this somewhat uneventful
incident was reported widely by many national news agencies.
When reported, many commenters found it shocking that a person who is otherwise
driving safely could be accused of being a careless driver simply because
they were eating while driving. In fact, in many metropolitan areas of
the country where commutes are long and people spend significant amounts
of time behind the wheel, eating while driving becomes almost a time-saving
necessity. In other words, eating while commuting has become an ingrained
habit for millions of Americans. They rely on the practice in order to
maximize their time. However, this widespread time-saving habit has now
be identified in many studies as a dangerous distraction to drivers.
"Eating while driving is one of the most distracting things you can
do," according to surveys and data complied by the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). NHTSA studies indicate that a full
80 percent of all the nation's car accidents are caused by a careless
driver who is distracted. "Eating on the run," is listed as
one of the most significant factors contributing to the careless driver
crisis. One study found coffee to be the top offender of foods which contribute
to driver distraction. "Coffee is the top offender because of its
tendency to spill." Imagine spilling a superheated hot coffee in
your lap. It's pretty apparent that in that circumstance, almost everyone
would quickly become a careless driver.
With so much traffic, and so little time, it is understandable why so many
hard-working people feel compelled to resort to eating while driving.
Unfortunately, the recent studies which address the issue categorically
establish that this seemingly harmless activity often results in deadly