On July 1, 2008, California and Washington will be the fourth and fifth
states to enact a law that bans the use of any hand-held mobile device
while driving your car. Other states prohibiting handheld mobile phone
use are Connecticut, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, and New
York. When it goes into effect on July 1, 2008, the California law will
also prohibit ALL cell-phone use -- including hands-free devices and
texting -- by drivers under the age of 18. Meanwhile, the rest of
California's drivers regardless of age must go hands-free when using
their cell phones by the same deadline. Violators will face a possible
$20 fine for a first offense, and $50 for subsequent offenses. Be
thankful: in New Jersey, the fine for violating the state's hands-free
law is $250 (and $100 for text messaging) - the most expensive
hands-free fine in the nation.
The law does allow non-minor drivers to use a wireless telephone for emergency purposes, drivers of commercial vehicles to use push-to-talk phones until July 1, 2011, and drivers of emergency response vehicles to use a cell phone without a hands-free device.
Just for fun: Check out this new hidden camera video from Parrot.com that captures five different driving instructors going ballistic on a kid who won't stop talking on his cell phone.
Obviously, this kid hasn't heard the rule Arnold Schwarzenegger enforced upon his own two teenage daughters.
Apparently, according to the California Governator, "I told my
daughters: 'I give you the car. I give you the cellphone, but if I see
you one time using both at the same time, both of them are gone.' "
Schwarzenegger added, " 'The car will be gone for a long time and the
phone will be gone for a long time. You go to school with the bus.'
They know that." That's tough love, Dad.
According to a statement released by the Office of the Governator, "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."
So, what's a ban for drivers is a boon for Bluetooth technology providers that specialize in mobile telephone devices and hands-free car kits. "Drivers are now caught in the Bluetooth wave here in the U.S.," says Ed Valdez, President and COO of Parrot, Inc., a supplier of car kits for original equipment and aftermarket installation. "Bluetooth-enabled cell phones accounted for about 70 percent of new phones sold in the fourth quarter of 2007 while MP3 capability was integrated in nearly 50 percent them. Using a Bluetooth-enabled hands-free solution with new features like audio streaming may no longer be a luxury but a necessity."
AskPatty.com has recently been provided several Motorola Bluetooth handsfree devices to try out, and we'll be sharing our opinions on them here very soon. Stay tuned to discover our opinions on some products that will make the transition to hands free cell-phone use even easier!