Friday, October 21, 2011

Eating while driving

Oak Park, Ill., is trying to crack down on distracted drivers.

A story came out recently that lawmakers in the community outside of Chicago want to create a comprehensive bill banning all distractions while driving. That means talking, texting, grooming and yes, apparently, even eating.

According to this story from the Chicago Tribune, if Oak Park ultimately passes an outright ban on eating while driving, it might become one of the first in the nation to do so.

Oak Park Village Trustee Colette Lueck, who is initiating the push against distracted driving, said she would like to ban applying make-up or drinking, in addition to eating and cell phone use.

“To me, this is an issue of public safety,” she said. “This isn’t government overreach; this is the government protecting people. Distracted driving puts everyone on the road in danger.”

Almost anything could be considered a distraction while driving: fiddling with a car radio or CD player; scratching an itch or blowing your nose. More and more, municipalities are allowing digital billboards along their roads and highways. Who's paying attention to the road when their watching the signs change?

Eating while driving a distraction? Yeah, probably. And if it is, I'm guilty.

It's almost a pre-requisite as a journalist to master the art of eating while driving.

In my former journalistic life as a high school sports writer for a weekly newspaper, eating in my car was essential. There were many Fridays or Saturdays in the fall where I would cover a football game in the afternoon, then another that night. The only way to find time to eat was to go through a fast-food drive-thru and scarf down a burger and fries on my way to the next event.

I wrote a column in the late 90s on the best fast food to eat while driving. (Unfortunately, that column is unavailable on The Mercury's website.) At the time, my unscientific study revealed that is was a McDonald's quarter-pounder with cheese. Now, it would be anything off a fast-food restaurant's value menu.
I don't eat as much in my car as I once did, but when I do, it's usually a breakfast sandwich or pastry instead of a burger and fries. And I don't believe it's ever been a distraction.

If you can't master the art of eating while driving, you mustn't be much of a driver!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Are "The Simpsons" nearing an end?

I"ve been a fan of "The Simpsons" since it first started on FOX in 1989 and for years it was the best show on television. But now, the longest-running animated TV show in history may not make it much further.

"The Simpsons" producer said Tuesday that the show's current financial model may keep it from continuing. A report said that producers are demanding a 45 percent pay cut from the six voice actors, who reportedly make nearly $8 million each for a season. The website said the voice actors have offered to take a 30 percent pay cut in return for a portion of the show's syndication and merchandise revenue.

According to the Associated Press, the Fox network reportedly loses money each year on new episodes, even as all the old episodes run in perpetuity in reruns and are a cash cow for producers and creators.

"The Simpsons" is averaging 7.1 million viewers for its new episodes this fall, down 14 percent from last year. Back in the 1991-92 season, an average of 21.7 million people watched it every week, Nielsen said.

For more, go here.