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The Hamburglar would have been proud. Last month, outside Atlanta, a Cobb County police officer charged H. Madison Turner for possession of a Double Quarter Pounder with cheese behind the wheel of his 2009 BMW. "He said specifically three times," 36-year-old Turner told a local television station, "'You can't just drive down the road eating a hamburger.'" According to The New York Times, Turner's gastronomic indulgence violated a law that states drivers "shall not engage in any actions which shall distract such driver from the safe operation of such vehicle."

The official charge on his traffic citation: "Eating while driving."

So it's come to this? A guy can no longer enjoy a hamburger while driving – a food that is ideally suited for consumption in an automobile. Consider the hamburger: it can be held in one hand; the bun is like a food glove that holds condiments in place and prevents them from dripping. As far as car-friendly foods go the hamburger is arguably No. 1. Only a hot dog (dress solely with mustard) can beat it.

How can eating a hamburger while driving be wrong? Is there anything more American? If you threw in a pack of Marlboros, you'd have what most drivers in the 1980s would have considered the perfect start to the afternoon. Are motorists who've just left the drive-through now supposed to hold Big Macs surreptitiously between their legs in case police are about? And who will watch the watchers? Is there any group of people who eat more food while driving than police officers? This crackdown may be the result of some mysterious doughnut lobby.

The knock on hamburgers and other foods is that they are distractions. In today's worthy campaign to stop people from texting while behind the wheel, eating may become collateral damage. Eating takes a driver's hands, and occasionally eyes, off the wheel but, as far as it being a distraction, there are worse – like passengers.

The Double Quarter Pounder with cheese ticket is an overreaction but, like most overreactions, there are examples that make them seem warranted. For instance, in 2012 police pulled over an Ottawa man who was eating an entire chicken. The Ottawa Sun reported that an OPP officer saw the man's car "weaving and tailgating other motorists. The officer saw the driver had a white china bowl balanced on his lap and was driving with his knees while he enjoyed some rotisserie chicken."

I only dine while driving as a last resort. I don't use a drive-through because I prefer to eat while I drive; I use a drive-through because I can't stand the idea of interacting with people while I poison myself with fast food. I "drive-through" and then pull over in the parking lot to run a loop of all my failed hopes and dreams while eating a double cheeseburger.

If you must dine behind the wheel here are some easy rules you can apply:

  1. If you can’t hold it with one hand, don’t eat it while driving.
  2. If it’s so hot that spilling it would make you scream, don’t drink it while driving.
  3. Don’t eat chili or popcorn while driving.
  4. Sushi is probably a good option. Or baby carrots (no dipping sauce).
  5. Wear ugly and/or old clothes, so if you spill food you won’t care and won’t be distracted.
  6. Consider going on a diet.

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