Chicago Suburb Wants You To Hang Up The Phone And Put The Food Down

It’s obvious that we Americans spend a lot of time in our cars. Last year, we drove a collective 3 trillion miles. We spend countless hours in our cars, during which time we get hungry driving from place to place – so, we eat in our cars.

However, those who eat behind the wheel may be the next target for Chicago area law-makers – citing safety concerns, a Chicago suburb is currently considering issuing traffic tickets for those who elect to “eat while driving.”

EWI? Eating While Driving

Because we spend so much time in our cars, we are familiar and comfortable in them. Unfortunately, the danger lurking behind that comfort is that we don’t always fully grasp the threat our other activities, besides driving, may pose to ourselves and other drivers.

Take eating for example – we are so accustomed to eating in our cars that we have an entire subset of the restaurant industry designed to make it easy to get food to eat on the go: the drive-through. With the drive-through, there is not even a pretense that we are stopping to eat; we never have to leave the driver’s seat of the car.

Distracted Driving

We all have heard how dangerous it is to text or even just talk on a phone while driving – as such, laws have been enacted throughout the U.S. restricting phone use while driving. In Illinois for example, it is illegal to text while driving, while in Chicago, using a cellphone while driving is prohibited.

Now a Chicago suburb, the Village of Oak Park, is considering banning eating while driving. The village is not certain they are going to enact an ordinance, but they are considering it as a part of the larger battle against distracted driving. An ABC TV 7 news story quoted John Hedges, an Oak Park village trustee as saying “I think I’d like to hear more information about it. I think we need to get more statistics on the safety issue before I would make up my mind on something like that.”

Too Many Distractions

All activities in a car, other than focusing your attention on the road, could cause an accident. Cell phones, iPads, radios, web browsing, eating, programming a GPS, texting, emailing, applying makeup, shaving, the list is endless.

The ABC story notes that a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report from 2009 indicated more crashes involved eating food than the usual suspects of DUI, cell phone use or texting. Of course, this statistic is probably due to the fact that more people eat in cars than text, at least for the moment.

A line will eventually need to be drawn on what can or can’t be done while driving, but until then we all need to remember the importance of being drivers first, and leave everything else a distant second.

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