Insurance companies have made a push in recent months to attract new customers by depicting the many types of distracted driving: blaring music, makeup application, hot coffee, etc. Oak Park, Illinois, is now considering a ban on eating, drinking and grooming behind the wheel. The purported purpose of the traffic violation law is to lower the number of  car accidents caused by so-called "distracted driving." If the ban is successful, Oak Park would be the first city in the nation to ban eating while driving.

Distracted Driving, a government website, has a database of laws, by state, addressing distracted driving.  Maine, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Utah have the most extensive laws on the issue in the form of blanket bans on distracted driving in general, based on different circumstances or distractions.

Eating in the car is somewhat synonymous with the fast food drive thru window paradigm of our fast paced society. I posit that rather than decreasing purchases made through drive thrus, as any mother with small children, or otherwise busy or otherwise constrained person can tell you, this would not curb that behavior (which isn't the goal here anyway). Nor, do I personally think that this would have any substantial impact on the number of people who actually eat behind the wheel.

State Farm conducted a study on the impact of texting bans in terms of whether they reduce the amount of car crashes, which is the stated goal of such laws. What the study found, however, was that, "there appears to have been a small increase in claims in the states enacting texting bans, compared to neighboring states. Partly, this may reflect the difficulty of enforcing texting bans." [emphasis added.] It's somewhat comical to think of how police officers would be expected to enforce an eating ban. Will drivers duck down in order to eat, so as to avoid detection? How can an officer verify what they saw? Will McDonald's be subpoenaed to produce receipts and video tapes documenting what time drivers made an order at the window? Time will tell whether the ban passes, or is effective at curbing distracted driving.

 

 

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