So, you’re heading through one of many of existing drive-through restaurants, possibly pressed for time. You head back out on the road and reach down to take a sip of your drink or maybe eat a fry, when all of a sudden, red lights and sirens flare up behind you. You know you weren’t speeding, and you definitely stopped at the red light. Your crime? Eating and Drinking while driving.
According to a small group of New Jersey lawmakers, driving while eating and drinking is similarly dangerous to things like texting or drinking alcohol and driving, and they want to do something about it. They’re asking their fellow lawmakers to pass a new bill that would, among other things, bar motorists from sipping on a cup of coffee or nibbling on a burger while behind the wheel. A first-time offense can carry up to $400 in fines, something that jumps up to as much as $800 for a third offense also including a 90-day license suspension and points.
Now, of course, it’s not that NJ Assemblyman John Wisniewski totally equates sipping a caffeinated latte with guzzling alcohol. He and Assembly co-sponsors Nicholas Chiaravalloti and Patrick Diegnan are just trying to target the broader issue of distracted driving which is an issue federal regulators say contributes to at least 11 percent of all fatal crashes in the U.S.
They have proposed a measure that would ban “any activity unrelated to the actual operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that interferes with the safe operation of the vehicle on a public road or highway.” Wisniewski said he’s particularly worried about things like texting, as well as drivers who try to open up maps or even read newspapers while behind the wheel. But eating and drinking can be equal distractions, some safety experts contend, and would be covered by the bill.
The safety of citizens may be at the heart of this bill, but laws like these show that government expansion is something on the rise. In reality, it is a way to raise money through fines. While texting and driving is definitely something, that due to its rapid increase in driver fatalities, should have consequences for the good of us all, food related accidents are hardly a comparable statistic.