Friday, September 15, 2006

Free your hands.

Ahh, the beauty of California. Because none of us out here are smart enough to think for ourselves and make logical decisions on sensible items, our wonderful legislators have stepped in to help us make wise choices.

    Drivers in California will need an ear piece or speaker to use their cell phones in the car under a bill signed Friday by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    Motorists could face fines of up to $50 if they violate the law, which makes it an infraction to hold a cell phone while driving. It takes effect July 1, 2008, and is similar to laws in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Washington D.C.

    A first offense will be punishable by a $20 fine, while subsequent violations will carry $50 fines. Calls made to emergency-service providers are exempt.

    "The simple fact is, it's dangerous to talk on your cell phone while driving," Schwarzenegger said during a bill-signing ceremony at an Oakland hotel, citing highway accident figures. "So getting people's hands off their phones and onto their steering wheels is going to make a big difference in road safety."

    Cell-phone use is the top cause of accidents triggered by distracted drivers, according to California Highway Patrol statistics dating to 2001.

    A Harvard University study released in 2002 estimated that about 5 percent of U.S. traffic accidents are caused by a driver talking on a cell phone.
I find that I get just as distracted talking with a hands-free device in my car, as when I'm driving without one. The main difference, of course, is that it's really, really tough to drive a stick-shift when you're holding on to the phone, or cradling it against your shoulder.

Silly law, perhaps, but I can understand the rationale behind it. Still, I wonder if it's the most important thing for cops to be doing: pulling over drivers who violate the law.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We've had the hands-free thing in cars in the UK for a couple of years. Its a good idea because there have been a lot of accidents because of drivers using mobiles.
Andrew Mills