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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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Cell Phone Drivers are a Danger
By ancient46 on 6/30/2008 12:14:43 PM , Rating: 2
From my experience driving to work on a divided highway, the majority of tailgaters are talking on the phone and paying minimal attention to driving. How can I tell they are on the phone? They are close enough behind for me to see them talking in my rear view mirror. Nothing seems to increase their awareness, not even slowing down to 40mph or less, until the call is completed. These daily experiences have made me a vocal advocate of banning cell phone usage in a moving vehicle.




By The0ne on 7/1/2008 10:57:19 PM , Rating: 2
My personal experiences are the same. While there are other distractions the majority of my "close death" encounters have been cell phone users, second to that are elderly drivers! (Argh). This is why I'm also advocating for the bann. If I weren't in those situations I could understand the other side of the argument but "near death" is near death.


"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone

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