A Cobb County, Georgia man made headlines last week for his run-in with the law after being spotted devouring a cheeseburger while driving.
H. Madison Turner was cited by an officer for his failure to “exercise due care in operating a motor vehicle,” in accordance with the state law, which also states that drivers “shall not engage in any actions which shall distract such driver from the safe operation of such vehicle.”
Naturally, the ordeal drew a great deal of public attention and press coverage, prompting a litany of web commenters railing shrilly against the “police state” that will surely bring us all to our knees if we don’t defend the rights of men like Turner everywhere to eat whatever they damn well please while driving.
Yes, it brings up matters of what constitutes distracted driving. And yes, that area can get uncomfortably hazy. But I have to say, my own discomfort doesn’t come from wondering which of my favorite foods I’ll be forbidden from eating while driving. It comes from wondering what all the fools out there on the road with me are trying to gulp down behind the wheel of a moving vehicle.
At the time of his citation, Turner had recently stopped at a nearby McDonalds and had purchased for himself a Double Quarter Pounder. Now my math isn’t always so hot, so correct me if I’m wrong, but “double quarter” sounds an awfully lot like a half. Half a pound of meat, presumably with cheese and other slimy condiments, held together with a bun and gripped in one hand that’s also supposed to help steer the car, being shoved toward a face that’s supposed to be watching the road.
The above sounds like reasonable grounds for a distracted driving situation, even if Turner had argued he’d been fully attentive to the road. But he didn’t even do that. Here’s what he told ABC affiliate WSB-TV:
“Maybe I was enjoying the burger too much. I needed to tone it down.”
Whatever, I’m not blaming the guy for getting super into a burger. I know personally that when I get a quarter pounder in front of me, the rest of the world tends to fade away. I’ve definitely got both hands on the thing, and I can see little in my periphery until its gone. One might say I need to tone it down, but hell if I can hear them. The burger and I are one, and we are dancing.
That’s all the more reason I don’t defend him. As someone who’s been known to enjoy a burger too much, I feel certain I would not want to meet myself on the road while so entranced. I’m inclined to believe that the cop – who, by the way, was apparently able to recognize that Turner was eating a cheeseburger from two miles away – saw someone who was clearly giving at least half his attention to a half pound of beef when under the law he was required not to engage in distracting activities. Doesn’t sound like much of a vicious trampling-on of rights.
In conclusion, we need more White Castle franchises in these United States. Tiny little burgers you can eat like popcorn, or discreetly ball into your fist when you get pulled over.