Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Today on Morning Edition there were two stories back-to-back about California’s new cellphone driving policy. I was pretty confused about what the actual policy was, but it seems to boil down to this: as of today, drivers can’t hold their phones while talking. That’s it. If you want to text, dial, play solitaire, read your email, or use the vibrate mode in a way other than it’s intended, that’s fine. But if you’re talking, you need to be hands-free. So I have a few issues with this, as usual:
  1. The goal of this law is to reduce accidents, and I can understand that cell-phone talking causes distractions. But it seems like there’s no specific data that backs up the fact that talking on your Bluetooth headset is any better for distractions than holding your phone. I’ll agree it’s more comfortable, and I’ve enjoyed using mine the last year or so, but less distracting? And certainly, it seems like if anything dialing and writing on your phone take a lot more concentration and are therefore even more distracting, so why not ban them too?
  2. My real goal with this law (and it’s all about me, of course) would be to enforce J’s cellphone etiquette. I read on Slate.com that the currently accepted rule is that you should only be talking, texting, or playing with your phone in the same circumstances under which you’d be solving a crossword puzzle. When I brought this up to my group of symphony friends they suggested you could do a crossword puzzle in a collaborative way, so we decided we should really go with Sudoku. So if you play Sudoku while driving (and it is still legal, remember) then talking while driving should be fine too. But I certainly don’t play Sudoku while out to dinner with friends, and I wish J wouldn’t either. Also our same friends decided that while C’s husband’s “other girlfriend is his boat”, J’s “other girlfriend” is a “regularly changing set of small electronic devices” so I think it’s a good sign that he needs to keep his cellphone in his pocket where it belongs…but that’s a whole other matter.
  3. California has had gubernatorial press conferences, ads, and public statements galore regarding this new rule, to make sure people understood what was coming. But Washington apparently implemented the same law today as well, and I haven’t heard a peep about it anywhere. Are we not worthy of a couple quick commercial announcements, or have I been living under a rock and just not noticed?

So for those in California, and those in Washington state, I bid you good driving, with your cellphone firmly ensconced pretty much anywhere but next to your ear. Enjoy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Who's the chick in the picture...she is totally hot.