Proposed Bill to Ban Coffee Behind the Wheel

In the News, January 24, 2017
If you live in New Jersey, you might need switch up your morning routine.

Like many working Americans, I depend on my morning cup of Joe to get my day started. After a 5:00am workout and a quick shower, I typically will not get to fuel up on caffeine until my 45-minute commute to Kent, Ohio. Many of you are like me and have lived this morning ritual for years, and the slightest interruption in that sacred routine can alter the day completely. Well, if you live in New Jersey, you may be in for a rude “wake up call.”

John Wisniewski, Democratic Assemblyman, is sponsoring a traffic safety bill that might take away a precious chance to hit that snooze button one more time. His bill will prohibit sipping that liquid energy on the way to work, forcing you to drink it at home or wait until you get to the office. The bill doesn’t just ban coffee in the car, but rather its broad wording will leave much up for interpretation by the law. The new traffic safety legislation would bar “any activity unrelated to the actual operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that interferes with the safe operation of the vehicle.”

At first, I was terrified thinking that I may lose an opportunity to consume my caffeine before 8:00am, however, after reading more carefully I realized there are some valid points in this bill. In his proposal, Wisniewski claimed, “driving distractions cause over 400,000 injuries each year and over 3,000 fatalities. These are injuries and fatalities that are easily preventable.” So yes, I may have to get up an extra 10 minutes earlier, but when I compare the value of life to the value of coffee, life will win every time. But what if you simply cannot manage your commute without your travel mug or morning croissant? Well, you could be looking at a fine up to $400 and a possible 90-day suspension of your driver’s license.

Historically, bills as stringent as this one have failed for many different reasons. In fact, Utah and Maine are the only two states that enforce highly-restrictive distracted driving laws. The traffic safety bill may be in discussion for another several months, so for now, there is one comment I would like to leave you with. Coffee or no coffee, let’s all just promise to stay focused on the roads and to drive as safely as possible.

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