Drinking and driving has been rightly outlawed for decades. Not only is doing so a distraction, it severely alters a driver’s ability to see and respond to hazards in a timely manner.
Texting and driving is equally as dangerous. Writing a single text can take a driver’s eyes off the road for a minimum of five seconds and have deadly consequences.
Distracted driving is a huge problem in this country and costs people their lives every day. Of course, alcohol and texting aren’t the only causes of car crashes. Other crash-causing distractions include putting on makeup, eating burritos, and drinking coffee.
One state believes it can reduce car crashes by making it illegal to do any of those things behind the wheel.
The New Jersey state legislature is considering a bill that would “prohibit 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.”
While the proposed bill doesn’t target any specific activity, eating, drinking, and grooming certainly fit the description of activities unrelated to driving. Then again, so does changing the radio station and carrying on a conversation with a child in the back seat.
Proposed fines for violating the law, should it go into effect, are between $200 and $400 for a first offense, $400 and $600 for a second, and $600 and $800 for a third, along with a 90-day license suspension.
New Jersey certainly isn’t messing around.
We’re guessing that drive-through coffee shops and fast food joints aren’t supporters of the bill, but police officers and other first-responders generally support legislation that intends to keep people safer.
The problem, though, is that government can’t legislate common sense. Most people are aware that having a cup of coffee on the road can be done in a safe manner, but watching old episodes of “Gilmore Girls” on a laptop probably can’t.
As vehicles continue to come equipped with more technology, the distracted driving problem will only get worse. Ironically, much of the new technology is geared toward making it easier to take phone calls or respond to text messages while driving. Voice-to-text features and other driver-focused infotainment systems should probably be banned long before that double-shot caramel macchiato.
Should drinking non-alcoholic beverages and eating behind the wheel be banned?