Look Ma, no hands!

I just read over at engadget that LA (and all of California) is going hands-free on January 1, 2008. Starting that day you you’ll need to use some soft of hands-free device when talking on the phone in the car. Apparently the first ticket is $20 and it escalates to $50 for repeat offenders. Also, it apparently doesn’t effect your driving record at all. Hmm. . .What do people think? Is this totally wack? Is it gonna help you not get rammed by all the jackasses who almost ram you all the time? Weigh in.

7 thoughts on “Look Ma, no hands!”

  1. Physically holding a phone to your head admittedly takes one hand off the wheel, but that’s really only part of the problem. The bigger part is the lack of FOCUS from paying more attention to your call than to the important and potentially dangerous act of driving. Add to that the fact that Damn Near Everyone is on the phone now, and you can see why it’s a miracle we don’t have 10 times the number of crashes.

    That said, I do admit to talking on the phone while driving, and I already use a wireless headset. I keep it to a minimum but I’m not entirely without sin here.

  2. As a rule I disagree with legislating common sense for whatever so-called “greater good.” I wore a seatbelt before it was illegal not to. I wore a motorcycle helmet before it was illegal not to. By the time it becomes illegal not to I’ll have been using a handsfree device in my vehicle for more than three years.

  3. I think I’m in favor.

    Like Ruth, I agree that this only address part of the distraction, but I know from personal experience that the time spent fumbling for the phone, pulling it out of my pocket, and looking at the keypad, is the time I’m most dangerous on the road. And I know that I’m much less likely to properly signal turns or lane-changes if I’ve got something in my hand. I don’t do it often, but would probably never do it if it were made illegal and you’re all better off for it.

    I also agree with Will in general, about legislating personal safety. But this is about legislating public safety. Your choice to wear a seatbelt or helmet don’t make other people safer. The manner in which you interact with your cellphone might. Drunk driving laws are probably a better example, no?

  4. Good analogy to the drunk driving laws, I think, especially since I read of one study that actually found that drivers were more impaired by cell phone usage than they were by drinking moderate amounts of alcohol. As for me, I don’t drive & phone.

  5. I don’t think the bill goes far enough. Highly paid, high strung agents and their assistants won’t think twice about staying on their phones and just paying the tickets, while everyday joes will be whacked with what amounts to a poor tax.
    Whoever approved this silly token law needs to be voted out in November.

  6. David, I disagree. The law doesn’t ban using the phone, it requires a headset. The price of a headset is less than the cost of a couple of tickets, so those agents have every reason to comply with the law without actually changing their behavior. And the poor certainly aren’t being taxed. If the law were that cars built before, say, 1995 would have to be fitted with some new-fangled cell technology then I’d agree. But outlawing dangerous behavior, providing cheap and easy ways (headsets) to minimize the disruption, and charging nominal penalties for violating the provisions, is hardly a poor tax.

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