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7/14/2005
12:14 PM
Alice LaPlante
Alice LaPlante
Commentary
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Should Cell Phones Be Banned In The Car?

I've always been concerned about the safety issues of using a cell phone in the car. Is there anyone who hasn't been shocked at someone driving badly, only to discover that person had a cell phone glued to his or her ear? I was therefore happy

I've always been concerned about the safety issues of using a cell phone in the car. Is there anyone who hasn't been shocked at someone driving badly, only to discover that person had a cell phone glued to his or her ear? I was therefore happy to see that my hometown, Chicago, recently instituted a partial ban on cell phone use: drivers are now required to use a hands-free headset when making calls when on the road, or face a $50 fine. I've personally been using a headset ever since I got my first cell phone.

Like many other small business operators, I need to be "on" almost all the time. Which means using mobile technology so I can be productive no matter where I happen to be. This includes when I'm in the car. I find my cell phone to be an invaluable tool for getting essential calls, checking voicemail and returning business calls when I'm stuck in traffic. With the hands-free headset, I figured I was much safer than having one hand occupied with holding the cell phone to my ear.

But I was wrong.

A new study, just out, concluded that drivers using mobile phones are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. This wasn't news. What was news (at least to me) was that hands-free equipment did not reduce chances of injury to drivers.

"The message is clear: Drivers should not use ANY type of cell phone behind the wheel," said Colonel Jim Champagne, chair of the Governors Highway Safety Association, in a statement.

I guess this makes sense. After all, you're still distracted when your phone rings; you still have to open it up (or press a button) to initiate talk. And if you dial when driving (something I always avoided whenever possible) that takes your attention off the road for whole seconds at a time.

So will this change my behavior? I think it will. After all, I don't want to put others (or myself) at risk. And driving, statistically, is already one of the more hazardous things we do on a daily basis anyway.

What do you think? I'm interested in hearing your take on this particular issue.

We had a number of excellent features for you this week. Top of the list: How to travel happily this summer. Our writer, Scot Koegler, about to embark on travels of his own, wrote a nifty piece on the kinds of equipment you can take with you to stay connected while on the road.

Then, we had a terrific TechBuilder's recipe on Winternals Recovery Manager 2.0. If your Windows system crashes, Winternals Recovery Manager can help return things to working order quickly and easily. As our article explains, its centralized console makes the software easy to set up and use. Check it out.

That's all for this week. As always, let me know what you think of these articles and anything else you find on Small Business Pipeline. And have a great week.

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