Monday, June 29, 2015

UK: Mother who ate banana at the wheel while she was stuck in gridlocked traffic 'is treated like a criminal' and fined £100

A single mother who was caught eating a banana at the wheel while stuck in gridlocked traffic has moaned she was treated 'like a criminal' after being fined £100.

Elsa Harris, who works as a carer, was pulled over while driving to work along a gridlocked road in Christchurch, Dorset.

She was handed the fine and given the choice of either three penalty points or completing a driver awareness course after admitting taking her hands off the wheel momentarily to peel the banana.

The 45-year-old, who insists her car was stationary in a traffic jam when she the incident occurred, has now blasted the fine as 'ridiculous'. She said: 'I'm a single mum. This is the most expensive banana I've ever had in my life.'

Ms Harris said she had already peeled the banana at home, but there was a small piece of skin still needing removal before she could eat it.

She said: 'An unmarked blue car started flashing at me, drove in front, then slammed its brakes on. It caused so much confusion with all the other cars, nobody knew what was going on.

'When the officer got out he was really angry from the offset, but I was still completely unaware I'd done anything wrong.'

Ms Harris said she's never been in trouble with the police before and has no points on her licence.

She said: 'The officer said I was driving without my hands on the wheel and was a danger to other drivers, but I said that was rubbish.

'I'm a carer and work at vulnerable people's homes serving them lunch. We don't stop for lunch ourselves, we don't get lunch breaks. Normally we have to eat on the hoof.

'He put me in the back of his car like a criminal and told me what a danger I was. 'I couldn't believe it, you get drink-drivers, people texting and eating while they speed along. Surely, me eating a banana in a traffic jam is not that important.'

Eating while driving is not a specific offence. However, anyone distracted behind the wheel or failing to operate their vehicle correctly because they are eating could be committing an offence of driving without due care and attention, or not being in proper control of a vehicle.

The Highway Code states drivers should avoid distractions such as eating, drinking, loud music, trying to read maps, smoking, and arguing with passengers or other road users.

Dorset Polices said it was unable to comment on specific cases still within the judicial process.

A spokesman said: 'If a person has been reported for a driving offence that they do not feel they are guilty of, the matter will be referred to the magistrates' court for a decision. 'Dorset Police is committed to reducing the number of casualties on Dorset's roads.

'Our traffic officers and No Excuse team use enforcement and education to tackle the 'fatal five' - drink and drug driving, excessive and inappropriate speed, not wearing a seatbelt, careless driving and driver distraction.

'We educate people at the roadside and through the driver awareness course to highlight the potential consequences of their actions.'

Original report here

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