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 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.

"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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