Mobile
Commentary
6/30/2008
02:12 PM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
Commentary
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

California Says Hands-Free Law Will Save 300 Lives Per Year

Beginning tomorrow, July 1, drivers in California will be required to use hands-free devices when behind the wheel of their car. A study conducted last month believes the law will save 300 lives annually. Does this type of legislation make a difference, and how will it be enforced?

Beginning tomorrow, July 1, drivers in California will be required to use hands-free devices when behind the wheel of their car. A study conducted last month believes the law will save 300 lives annually. Does this type of legislation make a difference, and how will it be enforced?When the Governator signed the bill prohibiting talking and driving, he said, "The simple fact is it's dangerous to talk on your cell phone while driving. CHP data show that cell phones are the number one cause of distracted-driving accidents. So getting people's hands off their phones and onto their steering wheels is going to make a big difference in road safety. The Hands-Free cell phone bill will save lives by making our roads safer."

But will it? According to some statistics offered up by the U.S. Department of Transportation, distracted drivers cause between 4,000 and 8,000 accidents per day. What's more, a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute says that almost 80% of crashes and 65% of near crashes happen within three seconds of some form of driver distraction.

The Governator's press release goes on to say:

Distracted driving leads to tens of thousands of car accidents annually, with many of these accidents resulting in serious injuries or even death. Distractions while driving include eating, drinking, changing the radio station, reading and using a cell phone. For many of these distractions, there is no practical alternative other than banning the activity. However, there is a practical alternative to holding a cell phone -- using a hands-free device. Hands-free devices are very inexpensive and most new phones come with an earpiece. Using a hands-free device while driving does not eliminate the distraction that comes with cell phones. Talking on the phone and dialing and hanging up the phone create a distraction. However, requiring drivers to use hands-free devices better ensures that drivers have two hands free to place on the wheel while driving.
The laws that go into effect tomorrow aim to force more people to use hands-free systems.

Driving and talking with the phone in your hand will be illegal. Talking while using hands-free devices, such as Bluetooth headsets, will still be allowed for those over 18. Drivers under the age of 18 will not be allowed to use handheld wireless phones or hands-free devices while driving. In other words, if you're under 18, no talking for you. Pay attention to the road.

Cops will be allowed to pull drivers over if they see them talking and driving at the same time. First offense equals a $20 fine, subsequent offenses will cost $50. Anyone, however, will still be permitted to make emergency 911 calls while driving, and drivers of emergency vehicles can make a call any time.

Lastly, truck drivers will be allowed to continue to use push-to-talk phones until July 1, 2011. I've used enough PTT phones in my time to know that setting up a call and carrying out a conversation is no less dangerous than a standard phone. Why these devices are exempted just doesn't make sense.

It will be up to police officers to exercise discretion in pulling people over for using their phones while driving. Will they do it? Who knows. Having this type of legislation, whether or not it is enforced, will convince at least some percentage of people to take more care if they need to use a phone and drive at the same time.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
InformationWeek Elite 100
InformationWeek Elite 100
Our data shows these innovators using digital technology in two key areas: providing better products and cutting costs. Almost half of them expect to introduce a new IT-led product this year, and 46% are using technology to make business processes more efficient.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest September 24, 2014
Start improving branch office support by tapping public and private cloud resources to boost performance, increase worker productivity, and cut costs.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.