Is All Inattentive Driving Unlawful?

So I pull up behind this man driving a Subaru Legacy with Illinois plates that spell ‘DONT TXT’ and think nothing of it. I casually know this individual has the right (within reason) to express his views through the Illinois vanity license plate program – provided he does not mind a surcharge for this service.

As I’m following Mr. Subaru, he does something odd – he continues to look down to his lap and to the right of his lap – at this point, I’m unable to ascertain what he’s doing except to think this might qualify as distracted driving. It’s a little irritating to read his message about texting and driving don’t mix while some law enforcement might question his attentiveness behind the wheel.

Distracted Driving takes on many forms

Anyway, this apparent inattentive driving continued for a few more miles as I’m noticing he would not qualify for driver of the year — in other words, he might be a liability for companies like Allstate and Geico. I also find his speed and ability to stay between the lane lines quite challenging. I briefly think, “Is he inebriated? How do I handle this situation?” I’m finally in a position to learn what he’s doing with his focus and concentration things become crystallized.

He’s not drinking, smoking weed, texting or engaged in illicit behavior from what this bespectacled observer can see. Instead, he’s eating — it appears to be peanuts or sunflower seeds as he grabs handful after handful as he’s casually steering his all-wheel drive vehicle. Perhaps his focus is 50/50 – half on driving and half on his favorite driving snack food.

It might be difficult to prove this individual is unlawful vis-a-vis motor vehicle rules and guidelines but in my mind, he’s being somewhat inattentive and a definite liability to himself and other motorists. One might argue he’s as great a liability as some inattentive Generation Yer engaged in TWD (texting while driving). The Illinois State Legislature has not yet abolished ‘eating peanuts while driving’ although TWD is unlawful. You have two separate behaviors, one illegal and the other legitimate although one could argue, in some situations, both driving behaviors could have the same effect.