Print 9 comment(s) - last by JeffDM.. on Oct 10 at 9:50 PM

Drivers in California will be forced to use hands-free devices and headsets starting in 2008

The use of mobile phones while driving may increase the possibility of accidents, according to studies and reports done by a number of research groups. This is the exact reason why California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today signed California SB-1613, a bill that will force drivers in California to use a hands-free device while driving. Palm, the largest producer of cell phones in California, is reportedly the only phone company that has stepped forward to support the bill.

As a cyclist that logs the majority of my miles on public roads open to vehicle traffic, I am hoping that the bill will make it safer for drivers and cyclists alike.  I have had a few close calls with drivers who were simply too engaged with their phone conversation while driving.

Official word from Palm:

"With the technology available today, there is no reason for a driver to be holding a cell phone while behind the wheel," said Mary Doyle, senior vice president and general counsel at Palm. "Headset technology, both wired and wireless, is readily available, and call quality using a hands-free headset is generally excellent. With our Treo smartphones, Palm gives drivers numerous options for helping keep their eyes on the road and two hands on the wheel, focusing first and foremost on driving."

Because the law won't come into effect until July 1, 2008, phone manufacturers will have more time to construct better products for consumers. Palm, for example, already has its line of Palm Treo smartphones which supports hands-free use. It is apparent that more companies are going to offer us phones that are designed to make hands-free use easier and more user-friendly.

What are your thoughts on laws that force drivers to use hands-free devices?  What kind of accessories and hands-free products would you like to see from phone manufacturers in the future?

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By Chillin1248 on 9/18/2006 3:06:42 AM , Rating: 2
That the problem is not with holding or not holding the cell phone while driving, it is the fact of you speaking. It is highly distracting talking to another source and your mind being distracted from the difficulties of driving. Hands-free only means that when the accident is approaching you have a second hand to deal with the situation which does help but does not solve the base problem.

RE: Noticed
By giantpandaman2 on 9/18/2006 4:59:12 AM , Rating: 3
Yup, that's absolutely correct.

The truth of the matter is cell phone companies used to fight this type of legislation. They felt it would be bad for business and slow down their budding industry.

At this point, however, they have market saturation. No cell phone companies oppose the requirement of hands free use even though it's been proven by the study above to not be any safer than just using a phone like normal. Why? Because they can force you to buy a more expensive cell phone or switch to a more expensive plan to get a "free" phone with hands free.

It's absolute crap.

RE: Noticed
By Hare on 9/18/2006 8:50:59 AM , Rating: 2
even though it's been proven by the study above to not be any safer than just using a phone like normal.
Maybe true with automatic transmission. Try driving around in a city with a manual while talking to your phone. I don't think you need a study to prove that using a hands-free will definitely increase safety.

By the way. Sweden is the only country in the western europe that doesn't have hands-free legislation (at least that was the case some time ago). European cars mostly have manual transmission (stick).

RE: Noticed
By jtesoro on 9/18/2006 11:16:16 AM , Rating: 2
I agree that using a handsfree device is safer than not using it. The study says though that holding a conversation on a phone is just as distracting when using a handsfree device as not. I would have liked to see if it compares to a regular conversation with someone who is in the car with you. That would be real interesting.

RE: Noticed
By giantpandaman2 on 9/18/2006 1:43:15 PM , Rating: 3
The point is that requiring hands free isn't going to make much if any improvement on using a cell phone in a car. Especially for those using automatic transmissions.

So either ban driving with a cell phone entirely or don't require this hands free stuff that makes very little difference. The distraction is far more dangerous than the lack of manual dexterity. I hesitate to say that most people with sticks don't drive with their cell phones going anyway.

RE: Noticed
By ziggo on 9/20/2006 10:27:03 AM , Rating: 2
I use a manual transmission and I never use my cell-phone while in traffic. I have on occasion while on a pretty clear highway with my hands free, but never in town.

I also ride a motorcycle frequently, and drivers on cell phones account for almost all of the drivers that pull out in front of me, or just dont see me. Worse yet, the ones on the cell phone usually look right at you making you think they saw you before they pull out.

RE: Noticed
By therealnickdanger on 9/19/2006 1:48:11 PM , Rating: 2
It's also important to recognize the difference between old and young drivers. We get a monthly traffic safety report here at work and one that I read stated that older drivers tend to be more prone to cell-phone related crashes than young drivers. They attributed this to the fact that older drivers aren't as comfortable or familiar with newer technology. I wish I had the exact article number for reference...

By Dfere on 9/21/2006 10:41:56 AM , Rating: 2
As an avid biker (both types) I can say that no way will this make things safer. If you are a cyclist, or just a biker, you should already know by now that in America, the majority of driving is done by threat avoidance, not consideration. Defensive/offensive driving is your only advantage, and the hope that you can outthink and outmanouver any potential idiot who happens to be in a position to hurt you.

This is a big reason for SUV sales. People who drive by threat avoidance seek bigger vehicles as safer transportation. Shame on you !

By JeffDM on 10/10/2006 9:50:02 PM , Rating: 2
This is a big reason for SUV sales. People who drive by threat avoidance seek bigger vehicles as safer transportation. Shame on you !

My understanding is that it's a false safety too.

I've seen US DOT information that showed that a mid-sized sedan was safer than an SUV, safer for those inside it, and safer for those outside it too. Part of the reason is the SUV's high center of gravity, a more flexing suspension and generally older braking technology make it a lot harder to perform good avoidance measures. For said reasons, they are involved in more roll-overs than any other type of passenger vehicle, which is the most dangerous type of vehicle accident.

Part of it is also psychological, drivers of SUVs may feel safer because of the bulk and thus drive more aggessively as a result, putting themselves and others at unnecessary risk. I've seen similar numbers that suggested that the safety of anti-lock brakes and airbags is compromised for the same reason, whether it be consciously or unconsciously, a lot of people use that additional safety as a reason to drive more aggressively and more than negate the safety that it provides.

"This week I got an iPhone. This weekend I got four chargers so I can keep it charged everywhere I go and a land line so I can actually make phone calls." -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

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