Print 19 comment(s) - last by tjr508.. on Jul 2 at 3:02 PM

Are you ready for the new law going into effect on July 1?

Three more days.  That's the number of days left before drivers in California will be forced to go hands-free while using a cell phone in the car, even if they aren't necessarily ready for the new law to go into effect.

Will the law make the roads safer?  Are drivers ready?  Do people even care?

If you're a Californian who is going to roll the dice and keep chatting on a phone without using a Bluetooth headset or speaker phone, the first offense will be $100.  If you keep on going, the fines can reach $190 for a second offense, with the fine continuing to increase with each additional violation.

But if you do end up getting a ticket come next week, will be giving away 730 free Discovery 925 Bluetooth headsets for drivers who get busted.  A law firm in the Bay Area island town of Alameda will hand out 2,000 Bluetooth headsets to Bay Area residents even if they don't get a ticket. 

The law does allow users with Sprint Nextel push-to-talk to continue using the push-to-talk feature without using Bluetooth technology.  If you're content with simply using your phone's speaker phone, you'll also be allowed to do that.

In case you're wondering, it's still going to be legal to send text messages while driving -- for now.  California Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), who authored the current hands-free law, recently wrote a new bill that will ban text messaging while driving.

If you're using a Bluetooth headset, please familiarize yourself with it before getting into the car and learning how to use your new gadget while driving.

Does using a Bluetooth headset actually make driving safer?  The jury is still out on this one, but either way, we still have to deal with it.  Researcher done at the University of Utah indicate drivers using a cell phone are 5.36 times more likely to get into a traffic accident, which roughly is on the same level of danger as driving with a .08 blood-alcohol level.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger believes the new law will help keep drivers safer, but researchers indicate it's more about a driver's attention and processing capacity instead of whether or not they're holding a cell phone.

A public survey done by Parrot indicates 63 percent of people who drive at least one hour per day talk on the cell phone for non-urgent matters.

Remember folks, the law officially goes into effect on Tuesday, July 1!

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By TomZ on 6/28/2008 3:26:05 PM , Rating: 3
This law assumes that driver distraction is entirely due to holding the handset, which is clearly not the case, to anyone who has talked on the phone while driving and/or thought about it at all.

Other important elements include dialing and other use of the controls like checking text messages, checking voice mail, etc. And of course there is the distraction of having the phone call itself, which is very significant.

I think if we want to focus on safety, then cell phone use while driving should be banned entirely. Otherwise, we should just accept that we, as a society, feel the tradeoff is worth it - that using a phone for entertainment and productivity while driving is worth having higher number of accidents, more injuries, more deaths, higher insurance costs, etc. That's the tradeoff, and we should think clearly about that.

In the meantime, laws like California's are only useful for PR purposes. They don't solve the issue they proport to, but policitians can still claim they are working to solve the problem.

RE: Stupid
By Master Kenobi on 6/28/2008 3:46:06 PM , Rating: 3
This has been in place in nearby Washington DC for over a year now. Our traffic accident rate is still unchanged.

RE: Stupid
By nvalhalla on 6/30/2008 12:46:58 AM , Rating: 5
Ahh...but I'll bet ticket revenue has increased. Which is what this is really all about. Tickets are a tax.

RE: Stupid
By Screwballl on 6/30/2008 12:31:31 PM , Rating: 2
Ahh...but I'll bet ticket revenue has increased. Which is what this is really all about. Tickets are a tax.


They can secretly care less if it makes the roads safer, they just want more money to pay for more unneeded things like a 15% pay increase for legislators at the expense of the taxpayer. They need to use the money made to pay for more traffic cops to enforce this and all traffic laws.
If done right, they need to make the law exact wording: Any cell or portable phone or devices that can be used to send or receive voice or text messages cannot be used by the driver of any licensed personal or commercial vehicle at anytime while the vehicle is moving our out of park/neutral gear. If the vehicle is parked in a legal parking spot, driveway, or other non-roadway and the vehicle is not moving then it is legal to use the devices.

All out ban on talking or texting while driving is the best way to go. Florida did this a few years ago (all out ban while driving) but unfortunately their tickets and methods of catching the drivers are lackluster and it continues with accidents the same or higher than before.

RE: Stupid
By sabre lime on 6/28/2008 3:58:48 PM , Rating: 2
I agree that distraction is not just from holding the phone but I doubt it would be legal to check text messages and dial numbers and so on. Some of it should come down to common sense. Just because you have a DVD player installed in your car doesn't mean you watch movies whilst driving.

RE: Stupid
By Treckin on 6/28/2008 5:11:22 PM , Rating: 3
They just need to hurry up and automate our cars -- like Minority report -- so that I can get back to having phone sex while playing Worm while eating and shaving while driving!

RE: Stupid
By xsilver on 6/29/2008 10:37:20 PM , Rating: 2
The latest merc S series can already accelerate/brake for you in dynamic cruise control. It can also avoid you turning the steering wheel into oncoming/unsafe traffic.

I guess the only thing that is left is to mate that with your gps system so that it can complete the whole journey.

RE: Stupid
By FaceMaster on 6/29/2008 8:08:17 AM , Rating: 2
Driving tests can be tough at the best of times, but when people are driving around blind corners while lighting a cigarette or pulling out in front of you at a roundabout while talking on their phone it's damned impossible. Drivers are distracted enough with out talking on a phone. Maybe American attitudes are different and everybody enjoys driving about recklessly, but in England I think it's a good thing that they've got a hands free law. Banning them completely would be even better.

RE: Stupid
By aebiv on 6/29/2008 4:26:19 PM , Rating: 2
I personally don't see the whole benefit of "completely banning" phone use in the car.

I'll be the first to admit, that using a bluetooth headset, or other handsfree device, is much easier. I try not to ever leave the house without my earpiece. Say though, that I forgot it at home, and I get an emergency call from one of my guys while I'm stuck in traffic. Under this law, I'd be breaking the law.

So I'm not going to sit here and say how stupid it is, because it isn't. A headset is a great idea, but then I think the people who truly are distracted by talking on the phone are going to still be poor drivers with a headset. It will just be something smaller that they can't see that they will fool with.

As far as the automatic vs manual conversation goes, I drive a manual and have had no issues talking and driving.

I understand the problem, or as I should say, the "perceived problem" but hardly agree that this is going to be a solution at all, and object slightly to yet more legislation eroding freedoms.

RE: Stupid
By FaceMaster on 6/30/2008 8:34:47 AM , Rating: 2
Emergency call maybe... but honestly, how many people talking on their cell phones in a car are responding to an emergency situation? And how many of those who claim they were actually were?

RE: Stupid
By Hare on 6/29/2008 9:26:21 AM , Rating: 2
I'm curious. How do you drive a stick shift while holding a phone? I've seen lots of people in intersections trying to turn the steering wheel, hold their phone, change gears and try not to hit pedestrians...

Ps. Many European countries have a hands-free law and I personally think it's a good idea. On the other hand we have a lot more cars with a manual transmission.

RE: Stupid
By Flunk on 6/29/2008 11:56:07 AM , Rating: 2
Almost all vehicles in the USA are automatic.

RE: Stupid
By xsilver on 6/29/2008 10:33:45 PM , Rating: 2
Hand 1: Steering Wheel
Hand 2: Gear lever
Hand 3: Mobile phone
Where's the problem?? ;)

Jokes aside, I think the standard way is to change gears with the phone hand so changing gears will temporarily break the phone conversation.
If you're really good however, I guess you can hold the steering wheel still with your knees and have the phone in one hand while the other hand manages the gear lever and the steering wheel.

RE: Stupid
By totallycool on 6/30/2008 10:45:57 AM , Rating: 2
Hand 3!!!!

God gave you a NECK for a purpose:P

RE: Stupid
By baseball43v3r on 6/30/2008 8:32:40 PM , Rating: 2
i'm a knee driver myself. left hand with the phone right hand shifting and the knee doing the steering wheel, much safer that way :-D

RE: Stupid
By tjr508 on 7/2/2008 3:02:18 PM , Rating: 2

I have worked with or for 3 of the 4 biggest fleets in the US. (All but military.) They have all came to the conclusion that it is not the hand that causes accidents, but the lack of attention. All three fleets have decided that hands-free devices are completely useless.

This is simply a big moneymaker for the telco parts makers (many of which are based in California). I think it is disgusting to pass propaganda laws such as this for one's own benefit, but it happens every day.

"Vista runs on Atom ... It's just no one uses it". -- Intel CEO Paul Otellini
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