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Old 09-15-06, 03:33 PM   #1
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California goes hands-free

Frankly, I haven't read anything that indicates hands-free cell phone use is any less attention-grabbing than is hands-full cell phone use, but what the heck.
  • All (yes, all) drivers are paying attention to their intended path in front of them most (not all) of the time.
  • No driver can be paying attention to everything all the time.
  • All drivers have their attention distracted from time to time.

Please ride accordingly.



California Goes Hands-Free
Sep 15, 2006 News Release

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed SB 1613, which was passed by legislators on August 31, that would prohibit the use of a cell phone in a moving vehicle unless the driver is using a hands free device.

"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," said Schwarzenegger. "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."

Specifically, SB 1613 will:

* Prohibit the use of cell phones by drivers unless the driver is using a hands-free device starting July 1, 2008.
* Allow drivers of commercial vehicles to use push-to-talk phones until July 1, 2011.
* Allow drivers to make emergency phone calls without using a hands-free device.
* Allow drivers of emergency response vehicles to use cell phone without a hands-free device.


http://www.govtech.net/localgovt/story.php?id=101034
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Old 09-15-06, 03:51 PM   #2
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July of 2008? That is a long way away!
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Old 09-15-06, 04:10 PM   #3
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As a heavy driver (for my work) as well as a cellphone user (go ahead and flame me if you wish) I think it is a good thing. From my personal experience as well as observing others, hands free does help.

I do use my phone in the car. It is a necessary evil at times. But I have always put driving as number one. I keep my conversations, when necessary, short. If they are a conversatio that requires any real thought I will tell them I need to wait until I am not driving. I will not hesistate (and have done it many times) to abruptly hang up if I driving conditions warrant it. So on and so forth.

I will not use my phone in the car without a headset.

IMO there are 2 areas of danger with cellphone use.

1. Taking the focus away from driving. Unfortunately this is all too common of a problem. People get so wrapped up in the conversation that they aren't paying attention to driving. Hands free likely will not help this.

2. Reduced ability to see. It is far too difficult to turn and look in the direction you are holding your phone. You also cannot hold the steering wheel with 2 hands. This is the reason I will only take a call in the car with a headset. I can keep both hands on the wheel and easily turn my head in all directions. I also do find it makes it easier to pay attention to driving. With both hands on the wheel etc I have many instances where the other person has to say "are you still there?" because I forget I was on a call.

It is still important to minimize cellphone use IMO. And be smart about it when necessary.

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Old 09-15-06, 04:17 PM   #4
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I dislike hands-free devices. I prefer to be able to tell visually that a driver is using the cell phone, and avoid them.
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Old 09-15-06, 04:19 PM   #5
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I read a study recently that showed cell phone users are just as distracted for five minutes after the call as they are during the call.

I think the emphasis on whether or not the hands are holding the phone is completely missing the point regarding what is the cause of inattention associated with cell phone use while driving.
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Old 09-15-06, 04:23 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DCCommuter
I dislike hands-free devices. I prefer to be able to tell visually that a driver is using the cell phone, and avoid them.
At first I thought you were joking.
But my second thought is: that's a really good point.

Yes, my friend, that's it exactly. At least with "hands full" cell phone users we can identify them. All this law does is require them to go stealth on us.
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Old 09-15-06, 05:22 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
I read a study recently that showed cell phone users are just as distracted for five minutes after the call as they are during the call.

I think the emphasis on whether or not the hands are holding the phone is completely missing the point regarding what is the cause of inattention associated with cell phone use while driving.
I won't fully disagree with you... but I want to add that while holding a phone a driver tends to be limited (although not really physically so) in where they can turn and look... That alone makes them more dangerous... they are not checking all those blind spots. Also one hand on the wheel reduces control ability.

Or in the case of the classic case I saw (nearly hit me) was the driver with the phone cradled on the shoulder... a coffee in one hand and a cigarette in the other... then he went to make a left turn. Tell me this guy had his mind on his driving... sheesh!
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Old 09-15-06, 05:30 PM   #8
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I don't know. My cousin's movements are quite limited due to arthritis (she cannot look back and must fully rely on mirrors), and she would never use the cell phone while driving. But, any healthy person holding a phone is still going to have much more ability to turn and look and check blind spots much better than she can on her best day. Also, moving van and other truck drivers can't look back and must use their side mirrors. Heck, any car loaded with stuff limits one's ability to look back.

When I use my phone I try to limit it. But the physical handling of the phone is really not an issue.
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Old 09-15-06, 07:14 PM   #9
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I was in Santa Monica the other Friday afternoon riding my motorcycle and was upset at the number of people on their cells phones who were completely ignoring traffic: women in large Escalades and other SUVs, men in their BMWs, Mercedes, and Porsches. They were all yacking away on their phones as they were crossing the intersection without even moving their heads around to look for other vehicles, pedestrians, etc. I was at a light that just turned green and this one woman in cross-traffic driving a large SUV and gabbing away on her cell was so unaware of her red light that she just kept rolling into the intersection, then stopped right in the middle when he suddenly realized traffic was backed up, thus now blocking cross-traffic.

Anyone see the MythBuster episode where they compared drunk-driving to talking on the cell-phone? I think they got worse driving scores while talking on the cell, than after drinking enough beer to get 0.8% BA.
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Old 09-15-06, 07:18 PM   #10
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I'm glad they'll be banning hand-held phones. Every little bit will help.

Honestly I can't see why anybody would put up with hand-held cell phones. I have a cell phone that came with a little thing you stick in your ear and it works way better with the earpiece than using the phone itself.

I never use it when driving, though.
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Old 09-15-06, 07:18 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mac
I was in Santa Monica the other Friday afternoon riding my motorcycle and was upset at the number of people on their cells phones who were completely ignoring traffic: women in large Escalades and other SUVs, men in their BMWs, Mercedes, and Porsches. They were all yacking away on their phones as they were crossing the intersection without even moving their heads around to look for other vehicles, pedestrians, etc. I was at a light that just turned green and this one woman in cross-traffic driving a large SUV and gabbing away on her cell was so unaware of her red light that she just kept rolling into the intersection, then stopped right in the middle when he suddenly realized traffic was backed up, thus now blocking cross-traffic.

Anyone see the MythBuster episode where they compared drunk-driving to talking on the cell-phone? I think they got worse driving scores while talking on the cell, than after drinking enough beer to get 0.8% BA.
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Old 09-15-06, 08:54 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Frankly, I haven't read anything that indicates hands-free cell phone use is any less attention-grabbing than is hands-full cell phone use, but what the heck.
The studies I've heard about all found that the phone conversation itself is the distraction and using a hands-free device doesn't improve things.

Quote:

* Prohibit the use of cell phones by drivers unless the driver is using a hands-free device starting July 1, 2008.
Good God Extort is right! There is no excuse for this kind of delay. Give the public 6 months notice tops. Every phone store I've been in has been well stocked with hands-free devices. What is Arnold waiting for? A hands-free bionic implant?????

When riding in traffic I too like to be able to easily see who is talking on a phone. I have learned not to get up alongside such cars as they are very unpredictable. Maybe we can get another law passed saying that when talking on a phone the driver has to mount a large lighted sign on top of the car (like a pizza delivery) that says CAUTION! IDIOT DRIVER ON PHONE.

DC went hands-free about 2 years ago. Neither the MD or VA suburbs have followed. Here is what I found:

Expect the law to be ignored for about 6 months to a year.
Gradually law enforcement will start ticketing after many complaints.
Among the most frequent violators of the law will be police officers themselves.
Because hands-free devices can be cumbersome to put on many drivers will forgo making or answering calls while driving. Yeah Victory!
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Old 09-15-06, 09:13 PM   #13
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I agree with the legislation. I assume it's for the whole state? I really disagree with the time frame, especially if what slowtrain said does happen, that will push enforcement up to sometime in 2009. And commercial drivers? Till 2011? Why? HH, anything else in the quote from Arnold saying why it will take so long?
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Old 09-15-06, 09:38 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Extort
July of 2008? That is a long way away!
I suspect that the phase-in date relates to length of contracts. Since most phones are sold on two-year contracts, this gives users essentially the full length of a contract to react to the new law and change their device, if needed, without pre-payment penalties, etc.
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Old 09-15-06, 09:53 PM   #15
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my car is already equipped with bluetooth handsfree

but what about kids as a dstraction? or eating? or reading a bood.... or changing the radio station? etc etc etc etc...
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Old 09-15-06, 09:53 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mac
Anyone see the MythBuster episode where they compared drunk-driving to talking on the cell-phone? I think they got worse driving scores while talking on the cell, than after drinking enough beer to get 0.8% BA.
I saw it. I wasn't impressed.

It showed that worst case, cell-phone use is as bad as being on the borderline between legally sober enough to drive, and drunk driving. At that BA level it's probably hard to get a conviction for drunk driving.

I mean that's not great, with all the hand-wringing about the alleged horrors of cell-phone use while driving, you'd think it would be worse than that.
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Old 09-15-06, 10:07 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Helmet Head
I saw it. I wasn't impressed.

It showed that worst case, cell-phone use is as bad as being on the borderline between legally sober enough to drive, and drunk driving. At that BA level it's probably hard to get a conviction for drunk driving.

I mean that's not great, with all the hand-wringing about the alleged horrors of cell-phone use while driving, you'd think it would be worse than that.
Twas 0.08% Blood Alcohol, just to be nitpicky. It's already illegal to use a hand held phone here and if it's any example people are just going to ignore it. I see people everyday using them while driving, you can almost see them from behind because they are swerving around in the lane. If I am driving I take every opportunity to stop beside them and lean on the horn so they can't hear anything from the phone and hopefully the person they are talking to gets the message as well.

This all stems from an incident while taking driving lessons when I was almost killed in backstreets by a guy in a suit coming out of a T intersection (where he had absolutely no right of way) and nearly killing me. Well, to be honest, he did see us halfway through the turn and slam on his breaks so his drivers side door was directly in the path of my car, so it was much more likely he was going to be killed. Lucky for him I was a learner at the time and doing about half the speed limit.
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Old 09-15-06, 10:20 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caligurl
but what about kids as a dstraction? or eating? or reading a bood.... or changing the radio station? etc etc etc etc...
All should be illegal as well!

Seriously though - it is a myth that the human mind can multi-task. At best it can shift rapidly between a series of competing tasks. So while you are tuning your car radio you are not paying effective attention to driving. Many cyclists have been mowed down by car radio tuners.

Making cell phone usage illegal (or at least requiring hands-free) is a step in the right direction. The rest will have to come with instilling good judgement into drivers heads.
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Old 09-15-06, 10:28 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goaliedad30
I suspect that the phase-in date relates to length of contracts. Since most phones are sold on two-year contracts, this gives users essentially the full length of a contract to react to the new law and change their device, if needed, without pre-payment penalties, etc.
Interesting take ... I don't know offhand how much notice was given before DC enacted their law. It was at least 6 months. But don't many phones today already come with a hands-free device? Aren't many of these devices universal (mine is)? I think the law can & should be put into effect much sooner. If a few people have to make a choice between switching phones or not using it while driving so be it.
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Old 09-15-06, 10:31 PM   #20
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I think making hand held cell phones illegal in moving cars is a good thing. But, at night as I ride past a car waiting to pull out if the driver is on the phone, now I can see the light of the phone easily. That raises my warning level from orange to red.
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Old 09-15-06, 10:33 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slow Train
Interesting take ... I don't know offhand how much notice was given before DC enacted their law. It was at least 6 months. But don't many phones today already come with a hands-free device? Aren't many of these devices universal (mine is)? I think the law can & should be put into effect much sooner. If a few people have to make a choice between switching phones or not using it while driving so be it.
No...in fact they should be furnished with a new device by their provider and either the provider or the user (whoever ends up paying for it) should get a tax write off on the value of the updated device if they have to upgrade before their service contract is due for renewal.
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Old 09-15-06, 11:21 PM   #22
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+1 on the multitasking comment. I've been rear ended TWICE (while driving a car, thank goodness)waiting at RED LIGHTS by losers talking on the phone (what am I SUPPOSED to do - run the red into traffic???).

Hey - if you are so important that you NEED to be talking on your cell phone, you should be important enough to have a chauffeur (who doesn't have a cell phone).

Honestly, I think our streets would be much safer if we could figure out a way to make it ILLEGAL to drive if you are in a hurry. If you are rushed, get someone else to drive who is not distracted by an irrational urge to run people over due to your schedule. Even better walk, ride or take public transit - avg driving speed in many (if not all) of the world's great cities is less than 20 mph (London, Bangkok are like 10 kph - jogging is faster than driving). If you are in a real hurry - take the F***ing subway, dude - that's what it's for.
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Old 09-16-06, 02:27 AM   #23
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This is dumb. Either ban them or don't.
This half -assed measure takes heat off teh cellphone companies without cutting into thier profits.
The distraction is not the phone itself. One is quite capable of driving with one hand, like when i get behind the wheel of a stickshift. The issue, and a number of studies have shown this to be true, is the nature of a phone conversation is far more distracting than a in real life conversation.
I'm with the guy who said, I'd like the visual warning.
Honestly, I don't support a ban, theres a lot of other things that are probably just as dangerious. i would support greater penalities for a person who causes an accednet on a cell phone. This law does not atke into account teh many factors that influence using a cell safely. Tight, but fast moving traffic, if you're going anything but watching teh road, you're a moron. I-5 between Stockton and bakersfield? There's like 4 cars in sight. Risk is way down.
I only use my phone while driving to report drunks or accedents, for the record.
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Old 09-16-06, 02:19 PM   #24
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I apologise for the late-night rant. While I freely admit to feeling this way, I probably was a little intemperate. Oh well, chalk it up to keyboard rage.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rajman
+1 on the multitasking comment. I've been rear ended TWICE (while driving a car, thank goodness)waiting at RED LIGHTS by losers talking on the phone (what am I SUPPOSED to do - run the red into traffic???).

Hey - if you are so important that you NEED to be talking on your cell phone, you should be important enough to have a chauffeur (who doesn't have a cell phone).

Honestly, I think our streets would be much safer if we could figure out a way to make it ILLEGAL to drive if you are in a hurry. If you are rushed, get someone else to drive who is not distracted by an irrational urge to run people over due to your schedule. Even better walk, ride or take public transit - avg driving speed in many (if not all) of the world's great cities is less than 20 mph (London, Bangkok are like 10 kph - jogging is faster than driving). If you are in a real hurry - take the F***ing subway, dude - that's what it's for.
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Old 09-16-06, 02:51 PM   #25
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Much the same as the UK govt., which banned handhelds but stated that they would not enforce it until 3months after it became law.

Guess what - no effect whatsoever. By the time the 3 months was up evryone had got used to the idea that they could get away with it, so phone use was unabated.

Unadulterated stupidity
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