My question for this edition:
In California, drivers are prohibited from using a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle unless they use a hands-free device. In other words, on July 1, 2008, it became illegal to utilize a cell phone while driving if the phone must be held up to the driver’s ear with one hand.
Do you talk on your cell phone while driving? If so, do you use a hands-free device? Why or why not?
I got my first cell phone in 1994, and have been talking while driving ever since. If I didn’t talk on my cell phone while driving, it would be much harder for me to work since I regularly travel on business. The vast majority of my business travel is comprised of one-day trips made via motor vehicle. So it is not unusual for me to spend a couple of hours driving to and from meetings, hearings, etc. and that’s a lot of time to be unavailable by telephone.
In late June, I, like millions of other Californians, purchased a Bluetooth headset. At first, I hated the way it felt on my ear. But I have gotten used to it — in fact, I almost jumped into the pool with it on my ear the other day, because I no longer feel it and forgot I had it on. I’m not thrilled about having one more thing I have to remember to take with me every time I leave the house, however.
And I am frustrated by the fact that every time the battery needs to be recharged, I have to pare it with both of my Blackberries (personal and business) again. It is not only one more thing to take with me, it is one more task to perform on a regular basis. In fact, the first device I purchased was defective and had to be exchanged after several hours of trying to get it to function properly. (I kept re-reading the directions, thinking, “It can’t be this hard!” Indeed, it isn’t.)
In the long run, I don’t believe that the new law will have any impact on the incidence of traffic accidents related to cell phone usage. To answer an incoming call using a hands-free device, a driver need only click the button on the device. However, unless your cell phone features voice-activated dialing (mine do), you must still pick up the telephone and dial the number or speed dialing code. Moreover, a lot of people still read and send emails and text messages while driving. (I read and send them while stopped at red lights.) So, in the long run, I am of the opinion that the new law is only going to benefit one group: The manufacturers and retailers of Bluetooth devices.