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Shake and Bake Makes It Tougher To Stay Safe on Texas Roads

Any graduate of a Texas defensive driving course will tell you that the material focused on limiting distractions. That means no cell phones, no applying makeup, no eating and nothing else other than trying to keep your eyes on the road and your mind on the business at hand.

Any former chemistry student can also tell you that mixing chemicals is serious business, where having the wrong ratios in lab experiment can lead to fires, chemical burns or wrose.

So when you combine those two, like illegal methamphetamine producers are doing in "shake and bake" operations throughout the state, it's a recipe for disaster. Bandara County law enforcement told a San Antonio TV station that the process is easy enough that someone can pour ingredients into a large soda bottle, wait for it to ignite and await the results.

The problem with the process, outside of it being distracting to be a homemade chemist of illicit substances, is that it creates a volatile mixture in the middle of the reaction, and if air can seep in it can explode.

That's not stopping the new "shake and bake" meth makers, who now "do the one-pot method, a lot of the times where they can just drive around and cook stuff while they're listening to the radio just driving down the road," Bandara County Sergeant Jerry Johnson told KENS TV.

It's worth knowing what to look for when you're on the road, because even if you've taken a defensive driving course, it can be difficult to stay away from these rolling meth labs. Common materials include now-banned ephedra, camping fuels and ephedra, as well as cold packs. The size of the bottles depends on the amount of production desired.

While you may not see the actual materials in the back of a vehicle since some illegal producers now keep the materials in their trunk, you may be able to see the flash of the initial ignition. You'll want to pull over immediately and call the police just to be safe. Obviously, if you see any kind of materials like the ones listed being used on a rural road or outside city limits, you'll want to do the same thing.

Some criminals think that using cars for illegal activities, including consumption or production of illicit substances, is less risky for them because they might be able to hide the evidence and aren't in one place. However, most drugs have the same effect as several alcoholic drinks, and the meth production could be even worse.

While there are relatively few reports of cars catching fire or exploding because of the newer technique, the effect on stronger structures like houses has been substantial. Media reports of one alleged methamphetamine lab explosion noted that one 20-ounce bottle had enough force to put a two-inch crack in a wall and take a door off its hinges. It's worth knowing what to look for and add a new tool to your defensive driving strategy.