Don’t Drive and Cell in CA

California has become the fifth state in the nation to make it illegal to drive and hold a cell phone conversation while actually holding the cell phone. It’s OK to do it hands free using a corded or Bluetooth wireless headset, but not holding the phone to the ear. The new law went into effect July 1st, and tickets are already plentiful. CNet News provided video of a police ride-along to reinforce the point. Surprisingly, text messaging, which requires both hands instead of just one hand, is still legal. Go figure!

Personally, although I dislike intrusive legislation that tries to play parent, this is not a bad thing, and I wish it were passed at the state level in PA too. (Did you know there are counties in PA where you can get a ticket for driving while holding the cell phone to your ear?) I spend a big portion of my time tooling up and down PA highways, and I can personally recall too many close encounters caused by a distracted driver chatting away at the wheel.

I don’t have one of those “fancy” cars with Bluetooth built right in, like my cousin’s BMW. So I bought a third party device called a Parrot, and had it installed by World Wide Stereo. When I get in the car I don’t even take my cell phone out of my pocketbook. I can answer incoming calls with the push of one button on my dash, and hang up the same way. When calls come in the phone rings so loudly over my stereo speakers it’s impossible to miss. The conversation is totally hands free, with incoming sound over my stereo, and a microphone cleverly attached, almost invisibly, to my rear-view mirror. The Parrot has the ability to hold a rather extensive address book too.

If you don’t want overkill, just buy yourself an inexpensive Bluetooth earphone, like the Jabra. Great sound, simple to use, and a lot safer. Just don’t wait until a law is passed, because in CA, all the headsets are sold out!


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