Should We Stop Traffic so People Can Get Their Fast-Food Fix?


By: , SparkPeople Blogger

I rarely venture out of the office during the day. After yesterday, I am thankful for that! Midmorning, I ventured out to the big suburban shopping area north of our office to pick up the remaining prizes for the dailySpark Holiday Giveaway. (What are the prizes, you ask? They're a secret! Check back each Monday until the end of 2008 to enter to win those prizes!)

I was so pleased with myself for hitting both the mall and Target without a traffic jam, long line or even a hunt for a parking place. Then I headed back to the office just before noon.

About a block from the highway, traffic thickened and slowed to a crawl. Confused, I looked ahead and noticed two sheriff's deputies directing traffic.

"A fender-bender," I thought. "What bum luck for those people, but that explains the slowdown."

Not quite. As we inched forward, I noticed the deputies were standing in front of the Burger King driveway, and just next door, another pair of deputies were in the Wendy's driveway. They were directing traffic so that people could get in and out of the fast-food restaurant drive-throughs!

Are you kidding me? Our tax dollars are being used to direct traffic during the lunchtime rush at the fast-food joints?! AMENDMENT: I've been informed that our tax dollars are not being spent on this. The restaurants typically pay those officers, who are off duty.

Have you ever heard of something so absurd? Does this happen elsewhere?

When I saw the effort that it took just to get a Whopper, I was amazed. Call me lazy, but why bother trying to go to a fast-food restaurant where the line reaches into the road? These restaurants are located in a busy intersection where there are no fewer than 20 other restaurants and two grocery stores, plus a mall food court, in a mile radius.

Instead of sitting in their cars for 20 minutes waiting to get French fries and a hamburger they'll inevitably gobble down behind the wheel, those people could easily bring something from home and use those extra minutes to slow down and savor their lunches--or even enjoy a quick walk with a co-worker. People complain about being pressed for time. Eliminating the fast-food waiting game would surely save hours in the course of a week.

Do sheriff's deputies direct traffic at the fast food joints in your neighborhood? Would a line out to the road discourage you from eating there? What is your reaction to this situation?

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  • 192
    I once lived in an area where police directed traffic into and out of a King's Supermarket parking lot at lunch time. Anything done in the interest of safety is a good thing, regardless of how we may judge the establishment. - 1/2/2015   1:36:59 PM
  • 191
    I was appalled when the new krispy Kreme had cones in the street directing traffic into their driveway. I chose to drive over the cones and leave them flattened in the road. How dare a private business block a public street. - 2/28/2010   10:38:18 PM
  • 190
    Fortunately, and surprisingly, this hasn't happened in my (red)neck of the woods...yet! Granted ‘’lackadaisical’’ does seem to be the mantra of so many of my southern kinsmen but the worst I've seen is on Sundays when some larger churches actually hire off-duty officers to stop traffic so church-goers can exit the parking lot after services. I guess they're in a hurry to get home to pull the roast from the oven. Whatever.

    It still leaves me dumbfounded that there is actually a need for this. So what if it takes you an extra 3 minutes to exit the lot – albeit church or fast food? You’ve made your decision as to where you want to spend your time, why should someone cushion the reality that comes with you decision just because you don’t want to deal with the consequences? Is your life so busy that you can't wait just 3 little minutes? If so, I'd suggest you invest in some courses for better Time Management. - 9/21/2009   9:40:33 AM
  • 189
    I have never heard of this before! I wouldn't bother getting fast food because, under this scenario you described, it is no longer "fast food." A meal prepared at home and brought to the office is much quicker! - 9/18/2009   12:56:45 PM
  • 188
    I have not seen this where I live, thank goodness. I don't like seeing long lines of people at drive up windows wasting fuel anyway. While I don't agree with the drive up window or eating a lot of fast food. People do have a right to eat whatever they want how ever they want to eat it. Hopefully more and more people will find Sparkpeople and jump on the healthy eating band wagon. I am doing my part, I spread the Spark where ever I go and a number of my friends have imbraced the Sparkpeple lifestyle. - 7/13/2009   6:58:18 PM
  • 187
    Do sheriff's deputies direct traffic at the fast food joints in your neighborhood? Would a line out to the road discourage you from eating there? What is your reaction to this situation?

    I have not yet seen the police direct traffic for restuarants of any speed. It would be nice to see an officer at lunch hour. Some drivers seem to loose their good sense when time becomes and issue. I refuse to judge someone else's desire to answer a hunger call. I, personally, have never been hungy for a specific food to the point of waiting in a long line. But then, I am an impatient soul.

    My reaction to the article is that, from the title, it was intended to cause readers to feel hostile against motorist who are stuck in traffic near a fast food business.

    (The name calling in these bogs is getting out of control. It makes me sad to read some of them.) - 6/21/2009   3:56:23 PM
  • 186
    I was so shocked when I read this, I am not quite even sure how to respond... other than WOW. - 6/20/2009   12:20:59 PM
  • 185
    I would be appalled at first if I saw officers directing traffic for fast food factories. OTOH, if the area is always busy, I'd rather have a safe street. I think the real question to ask is-if there are so many other options nearby, why sit in your car for a mediocre burger and fries? Why not run into the grocery store and get something more appealing and satisfying? Sounds like it would take the same amount or less time.

    I'm not going to knock people for wanting fast food-sometimes I get that urge too, if not often. I just don't have the patience to sit in my car that long. - 4/28/2009   1:22:26 PM
  • 184
    I've never seen cops directing traffic around fast food... not yet anyway... but I've seen some pretty careless drivers in those areas. My boyfriend and I were just on our long drive back home from his moms house while it was starting to get dark, and some idiot whipped around in front of us, then hit their breaks and high-tailed it into the Burger King we were about to pass. Apparently they couldn't wait all of two seconds before we were out of their way. - 4/28/2009   11:23:38 AM
    I have never seen that! I live in a town with a metro population of about 1 million. I think the problem is more in city planning (too many places too close), than people's fast food fix. - 4/28/2009   11:16:49 AM
    This is a first for me. I have never heard of anything like this. I would not wait that long to get a burger unless I felt I would literally die without it. - 4/26/2009   6:56:44 PM
  • 181
    We don't have cops directing traffic around FF restaurants, but I do have to be careful when and where I walk/run. Sometimes I forget the time and I run along the main road that passes the majority of the FF places in town. Those people are in such a hurry to get their junk food fix that I have nearly been hit on several occasions. They don't look where they are going, nor do they care. It is ridiculous. - 4/23/2009   1:01:27 PM
  • 180
    It sounds like an issue of safety and a lack of options for something quick and easy for people to eat. If traffic is an issue than it is great that Burger King does something about it. - 4/22/2009   4:04:56 PM
  • 179
    How sad. I would guess that most people who have so much time in their lunchbreak to sit in such a line must work nearby. If they want the fast food for lunch, they should walk over! I agree with the other comment on here ... people who will block traffic in order to get fast food should be ticketed and fined, not assisted! It sounds like a very dangerous practice for these officers, who are having to stand out and direct traffic, amidst all these cars! - 4/21/2009   5:13:13 PM
    For starters, this is a safety issue. There are a few officers directing traffic at several restaurants on the busier streets in the city...and not only at fast food places but also fast casual places as well. I would rather have someone directing traffice because it makes the streets safer for everyone. My teenaged son goes out to eat lunch with his friends once a week (a senior privilege). I encourage him to use restaurants with easy access or a police officer to direct traffic.

    People have to eat and sometimes bringing things from home is not possible. Not all people who eat fast food are slobs, lazy, or gluttons. They could just be hungry and in need of some food. Yesterday, my doctor's appointment ran late and I still had errands to do. I was starved. Rather than run home to eat and waste gasoline, I swung through a drive-thru for a small burger and a diet drink. I had a relatively low calorie, inexpensive meal and my car barely idled.

    What I find most frustrating is the maliciousness in which we berate people who eat fast food. The next time you misplace your car keys or some other object, pray that finding them will come as easily as finding fault in others. - 4/14/2009   6:59:28 PM
    Um...What do I say about this? I have not been to a hamburger dive for years and I have a child who loves chicken McNuggets and tenders. Why do so many people feel the need for this "convienence" that shows that they are just as lazy as anyone else. I can't stand the lines either, too long and slow to move because we make it fresh for you too. I just don't have the patience for it. - 4/14/2009   4:45:04 PM
    Wow...what do I say about this? I have not been to a burger dive for years because of the way that they treat you as a number and not as a person. I guess that is how they make their money. But my chils has learned that I do not go to those places anymore even though she loves the Mcnuggets or strips. Also the time that it takes to get any order be it food or drink takes ridiculously long to get at the drive thru or the counter. Enough said about that before I get political and that is another subject altogether. - 4/14/2009   4:22:59 PM
  • 175
    I agree with some when they say just because they are stepping into a fast food place, does not mean they are being gluttonous.
    However, with that being said, i refuse to wait in line for a drive-thru. :-) My splurge for a McD's happy meal can wait if I have to wait for more than 2 cars in front of me! - 4/14/2009   11:41:17 AM
  • 174
    This is getting ridiculous.. I have not seen this anywhere thus far.. but looks like I will soon.. - 11/26/2008   4:43:29 PM
    From now on I'm calling "fast food" what it is - FAT FOOD! - 11/26/2008   4:49:45 AM
  • 172
    I live in Houston. There is a place that's had cops directing traffic for as long as I can remember - going back to up to 20 years, at least - during the busy hours on weekdays. Well, actually, not sure they still have them, because I haven't been to that area in a long time, but for years they were there. The cops were directing traffic coming out of two parking lots across from each other -- one was a big strip mall with a supermarket, the other a smaller strip mall with a hobby store...and a lot of other businesses/restaurants. They both came out near a u-turn area (end of an esplanade), and no traffic light there. As far as I know, it was the supermarket that employed the cops to direct the traffic.

    The area mentioned in this blog is described as: "These restaurants are located in a busy intersection where there are no fewer than 20 other restaurants and two grocery stores, plus a mall food court, in a mile radius."

    I'm assuming the fact that there is a huge amount of traffic in this area is due to all these factors, not just the fast food places. Apparently it just happened to be a couple of fast food places that thought to do something and try to head off traffic problems.

    This is not new and isn't about fast food; it's about traffic. - 11/25/2008   10:52:31 AM
  • 171
    I've always wondered why they refer to it as "fast" food anyways?!?! Seems I've been in sit-down restaurants where the service was faster... Either way, while it sounds completely ludicrous, if it's keeping people safe from accidents, then why not... - 11/25/2008   9:21:23 AM
    i guess its all in how you look at it. yes the backed up traffic is a pain in the foot but on the other hand how bad would it be if there were no police there to help out? i do not like to be slowed down when i am on a mission but things happen and if we have no control over it then what can you do. but if you have some control then do what you can to help. - 11/24/2008   9:48:02 AM
  • 169
    Thankfully we don't have this problem here, unfortunately it is because if one is full you have dozens more to choose from. - 11/24/2008   8:40:32 AM
    I've never heard of such a thing for any food establishment. Just goes to show the state of the world today and their lack of good food choices. - 11/24/2008   8:07:59 AM
  • 167
    I haven't sen thr traffic control for fast food but I have for Starbucks and for churches. I think that the business is trying to make sure that they are not impacting the flow of normal street traffic more than anything else and that is a good thing. IF folks want to burn their gas while they sit to get fattening unhealthy food - that is their choice. I choose not to do that. - 11/24/2008   1:18:23 AM
  • 166
    I won't even wait in line at a "drive-thru" if there's two cars in front of me! With gas prices the way they;ve been, and the pollution factor of idling for a long time as well, I can't understand why people would be willing to wait so long! - 11/24/2008   12:20:36 AM
  • 165
    I see them in the entrance of our Church on Sundays and special holidays, some times they help other times they make it worse.
    So what I am trying to say is, if the people who are paying them think it is necessary, who am I to denied them of their job??? - 11/23/2008   10:38:46 AM
    I don't like it when cars are blocking traffic to get their food. I think it is disrespectful and unsafe for the rest of us. And it makes us loose time. I have seen that in my blocking an alley, that I need to access, because cars are in a drive-thru line...I don't think it's fair for me to go a different route. One last thing..those cars should not be blocking, what if there is an emergency!!!!! - 11/23/2008   2:52:41 AM
  • 163
    I find this so offensive I can hardly find the right words for it. How dare these restaurants take it upon themselves to direct traffic? How dare they inconvenience me, the driver who has to stop to make room for a drive-thru, for the sake of getting a few more lunchtime customers than their neighbor?

    Today I was stopped twice, once at each driveway, for some event at an appliance store. I live in a small rural town, and was in the city for the day. How can people stand to live this way? - 11/22/2008   11:21:34 PM
  • 162
    Guess we need to SPREAD THE SPARK in that area. - 11/22/2008   7:09:33 PM
  • 161
    Sounds insane to me. With all those cars idling through the drive through, what are they doing to our environment. I am a firm believer in walking and mass transit. I'll walk accross town occasionally for a good lunch, even a hamburger sometimes. But I've walked 30 minutes. So be it. - 11/22/2008   2:12:08 PM
  • 160
    Well said Shawdowpup! (comment 146). - 11/22/2008   12:53:09 PM
  • 159
    WOW I have never seen this happen. I think by the time I waited in line I could already be eating something better for me. This just shows where America's priorities are and why we have become so unhealthy. - 11/22/2008   12:51:11 PM
    I have never seen cops directing traffic in or out of fast food restaurants. That is a very sad statement as far as I'm concerned. - 11/22/2008   12:16:54 PM
  • 157
    I don't think police directing traffic, especially off-duty rent-a-cops is outrageous. I'm glad they keep traffic flowing and fender benders down. I think it's outrageous that people choose that food in such numbers. I blame McDonalds for the fat grams in their menus. I don't blame them for their popularity. If long lines don't deter the big mac attack then apparently there's addition there. Maybe there are all having dry salads with a diet coke! But I think not. I believe that watching out for the safety of their guests cars and not their bodies is short sighted on the part of the fast food industry. But the cops on the road directing traffic that sounds good to me. Our drive through that's in a busy enough place to require assistance is brilliantly laid out so the exit is on a side road with a light so there is no problem with the traffic. I think it was a case of good city planning. I didn't know they had it in them. - 11/22/2008   12:03:13 PM
  • 156
    I've never heard of something so outrageous, luckily they don't have that around there, but they probably need to people go crazy trying to get some cheeseburgers. I think it is nice that the restaurants are the ones paying the officers, and I am sure that it helps their business a lot, gosh has our society become so obsessed with fast food that we can't control ourselves and we have to have someone directing us into the line. I really hope I don't see this in my area, but I might have to park somewhere nearby on my lunch and just watch and laugh at all of the crazy people desperate for some fries! - 11/22/2008   11:18:45 AM
  • 155
    I get too jittery waiting in lines especially in the car. I'm always thinking about how many gallons of gas I'm using. It would be cheaper to have food delivered! - 11/22/2008   10:18:29 AM
  • 154
    I have seen McDonalds and Taco Bell both have lines out into the street blocking traffic. Never saw police directing traffic, but what a hazard. I cannot believe people would wait in that line. I don't think I would get in a line like that if it were healthy, good for me food. The last car risks getting rear-ended causing a ridiculous "chain" reaction. Personally I think if you are stupid enough to block traffic you should get a ticket from the police, not help. - 11/22/2008   10:04:00 AM
  • 153
    I've never seen this. I've never been to a drive though and with all the talk of greenhouse gases and the environment, I think they should be banned. How much junk is being put into the air with all the idling cars sitting in lines at drive throughs? - 11/22/2008   9:34:54 AM
  • 152
    I have never seen this in my area....but find it pretty rediculous........if I see a long line to a resturant or fast food place I either look for one that doesn't have a long line or gladly wait till I get home........I am a home-body to start with so doesn't bother me that much. When we are on vacation and eating out is our only choice..I can't wait to get home to prepare a HOMEMADE meal...veggie soup is at the top of the list - 11/22/2008   9:19:13 AM
    I may have your story beat when it comes to the ridiculous factor. The town were I live installed a stoplight that gives right of way to the cars leaving McDonalds' drive-through lane over the cars that are on the public roadway. That is, a vehicle on the public roadway has to yield to cars coming out of McDonalds. There have been times I've had to wait through 4 cycles of the traffic light before I got a chance to go.

    And the government DID pay for that traffic light.

    I guess it just wouldn't do for there to be a traffic jam in the McDonalds lot. Too bad the residents who live nearby aren't given the same consideration. - 11/22/2008   8:44:17 AM
  • 150
    A couple of weeks ago I would have found this hard to believe but I saw it in front of a Wendy's when I rode with my DD to run some errands around lunchtime. No cops directing traffic, just the right lane of traffic backed up and folks swerving out into the left lane to avoid the mess. Daughter says it's like that every weekday all over. Whatever happened to brown-bagging it? - 11/22/2008   7:31:15 AM
    It's a very sad reflection on people's lifestyles and eating habits.

    More and more I'm beginning to think that the fast food industry and the "cult of expansion" is just out of control. And my gosh, these car-crazy cities need a complete design overhaul so that people can get out and walk or use their bikes! - 11/22/2008   7:12:00 AM
  • 148
    I am sorry but that is not right!
    First there is no way I am waiting in a line like that for a burger or anything else really for that matter.... When In & Out burger and Krispy Cream Donuts came to town there were lines like that for weeks... I could not beleive it.
    Secondly... what did the city say about off duty police officers stopping the flow of traffic for a side job? What would have happened if there was a "fender bender" resulting from them stopping the traffic? I would be doing some loud speaking at town counsil meetings.
    - 11/22/2008   6:59:07 AM
  • 147
    I've travelled through several cities where the lunch hour traffic in front of fast food and restaurant areas, not to mention conference centers and hotels, or even the grocery store, can get pretty intense. It seems most common when the places people work are just a bit too far from where they want to run errands/eat lunch to walk, but close enough to squeeze in during an hour. This may be how they are finding time to visit the gym before or after work. I've been appreciative of the times when offduty officers have been hired by those establishments to help traffic flow better; it can get dangerous when time-pressed people try to go in/out of any of those lots by themselves. And when you see me in a line like that, it is probably because I have limited time between meetings in a city I've flown to the night before, used the wee hours of the morning to work out, and want to pick up a healthy option for lunch rather than skipping. There is no reason to get one's blood boiling over imagined unhealthy people. Instead, think about supporting local city planning efforts to make it easy and safe to to walk to healthy lunch options, or to help *you* get quickly to your own errands without use of the car. And to raise a point: the people walking on the sidewalk might be looking at all of the cars with a certain air of disgust, too, not realizing you were picking up gifts for SP. But still, thanks for posting this article. It is worthwhile thinking about whether "fast food" is really a faster option. - 11/22/2008   6:09:41 AM
  • 146
    I have never heard of such a thing. If the police want to earn extra money the should put in for overtime. Personally I have never eaten in any of these types of places, and if I did I certainly would not wait in a queue like that. - 11/22/2008   6:09:41 AM
  • 145
    Unfortunately the United States is in dire straights, so much waste, so much corruption, so little regard for much of anything. When you have a government that will spend $5000.00 on a toliet seat, CEO's of companies begging for money from the government flying in on their private jets to do so, a financial organization being bailed out turning around to spend 100's of 1000's of dollars on a resort get-a-way, golf outting....come on's all well and good to stand on our soap boxes and gripe....but who's willing to step up to the plate to work on changing it? - 11/22/2008   4:35:20 AM
  • 144
    This is insane ... I live in the Netherlands I have never heard of anything like it. I do stand in a traffic on a daily basis and am used to take twice the time getting somewhere because of it. But standing in traffic in it self is frustrating, but because of fast food is infuriating madning. That's unacceptable. - 11/22/2008   3:54:34 AM
  • 143
    That is quite literally so pathetic I find it hard to comment!!! - 11/22/2008   3:38:53 AM

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