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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, Headsets.com 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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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?


"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings

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