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Hang Up and Drive…

The new laws in California regarding banning the use of cell phones while driving have been in place for well over a year now.  Just in case there is any confusion, I wanted to state the current laws before I go on with my rants.

Effective July 1, 2008, the state of California passed a law that prohibits drivers from using a hand held wireless telephone while operating a motor vehicle. Motorists 18 and over may use a hands-free device, which also means, drivers that are under the age of 18 may NOT  use their cell phone at all, NOT even with the use of a hands free device. Kids, this means all hands on deck (steering wheel), put the cell phone in the glove box.

Effective January 1, 2009, the state of California passed a law that prohibits motorists from reading, composing, or sending any text-based communication while driving. If you don’t understand this completely, this means NO emailing, texting, instant messaging, or even Googling!

An officer can definitely pull you over if you are seen using your cell phone to talk or text. Fines can range from $20 for a first offense and up to a $190 fine if you are also cited for other violations. I did find a strange  loop hole that could possibly get you out of a ticket, though I would not gamble on it.  The new law does NOT prohibit dialing a phone number, although, drivers are strongly encouraged NOT to dial while driving, it is not illegal.

If you are looking to save some money right now on a blue tooth or installing hands free in your car, my guess is you probably DO have speaker phone on your mobile device. The law states that YES, you can use your Speaker Phone, but ONLY if you are NOT physically holding the phone to your hand. This means holding the phone 4 inches from your mouth is NOT hands-free. Sorry, Jennifer Aniston, (pictured left) unfortunately, this  includes celebrities too.

I think most people agree that talking on their cell phone and especially texting while driving, is dangerous, because we are not focused on the road. I came across a National Study in the Washington Post that revealed:

“Cell phones and texting were to blame for 28 percent of crashes, a report released Friday concludes that hands-free cellphones are no less distracting than those held to the ear.”

Let’s just say everyone DOES use a hands-free device. Is this really safer than holding the phone to your ear? When you are talking on the phone, your attention is still on the phone conversation. You mind may be processing what to say next. You may be looking at your surroundings but are you effectively analyzing your drive? We not only drive with our hands (10 and 2) but we also drive with our minds. Talking on a cell phone takes the essential attention that is needed to focus from the road to the phone.

It’s a fast-paced business world and we all have distractions. Whether it is your spouse, kids, or work, a stressful day can take our attention away. If you have to talk on the phone, I agree, hands-free is a better alternative but try to be mindful of your surrounding. Texting, Emailing, and Messaging on the other hand, definitely not safe, because now your focus is not only on your email but your eyes are on your phone and not the road. If there is something that is so urgent that it needs an immediate response, pull over. If you refuse  to do that, at least respond at a red light. There are way to many accidents and deaths that happen each year because someone urgently had to reply back, “lol” to their friend’s text.

I’m not here to police or judge, because although I do have hands free installed in my car, there have been times where I text back a friend or hold my phone that was on speaker. I understand we live in a busy world but I think if you read little reminders here and there, the next time you hear the beep on your phone, you may wait to respond until you’ve come to a stop or answer the phone on speaker and throw it your lap instead of holding it in your hand. Just focus on one trip at a time.

I would love your opinions!

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