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Relax: You Can Still Eat in Your Car

Oak Park official's comment on outlawing eating while driving part of broader discussion about distractions behind the wheel.

Trustees Adam Salzman and Ray Johnson were seated inside the for the Oak Park Village Board's first-ever Tweetup on Wednesday when a couple of guests began dropping by with questions — half-joking, half-serious questions about whether Oak Park was going to be the first place in America to ban eating while driving.

Salzman and Johnson were flummoxed. They grimaced then rolled their eyes when told stories were airing on WBBM-AM 780 and other media outlets. On Thursday, after a front-page Chicago Tribune story, WGN-TV did a few live spots near Harlem and Lake, leading off the segment by saying "Oak Park is cracking down on distracted driving, this time they're targeting people who eat and groom themselves behind the wheel."

But is that the case?

While Oak Park officials agree distracted driving is a public safety issue — indeed, the U.S. Dept. of Transportation lists "eating and drinking" as a distraction, along with talking to passengers and consulting a map — they say a ban on eating while driving isn't in the works.

"It's not under consideration," Johnson said at Wednesday's Tweetup.

Village spokesperson David Powers said "no specific direction was given on how to proceed beyond a general agreement that a discussion on ways to limit distracted driving should occur."

At Monday's special meeting, which was centered on public safety, trustees discussed the enforcement of texting while driving and if those cases could be adjudicated in Oak Park, not in county court.

Trustee Colette Lueck attempted to broaden the discussion to distracted driving, "of which cell phone and texting is one way potential to be distracted but there are others as well. I would be in be favor of a little bit of a broader discussion, like in Wisconsin you can't eat and drive legally."

(That last part isn't true by the way, and if it was, this outlaw should've been locked up a long time ago.)

Lueck told Wednesday Journal the comment was "made in passing...I don't know how this has gotten so hyped up."

A video clip of that portion of the meeting is embedded above.

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