Tuesday, July 01, 2008

"Hello? Idiot behind the wheel...."

California's new law banning hand-held cell-phone use takes effect today.

Although police agencies around Southern California said they would be enforcing the law, some agencies will be more aggressive than others, with the California Highway Patrol vowing the most rigorous enforcement.

Personally? I think highways are not as dangerous as cell-phone use on sidestreets. On freeways, you can kind of put yourself into "cruise-control"; on sidestreets, you're always having to make more complex decisions.

Here's what I wrote on Skye Puppy's blog back in March (because I'm too short on time to go into depth on it, today):

I have mixed feelings regarding this. Along with cell phones, there are a number of idiot drivers who can't multi-task and stay focused and know their limiations and use sound judgments. They are constantly distracted from fiddling with the cd changer, makeup, conversations within the vehicle, billboard signs, a beautiful lady walking down the sidewalk or in another vehicle, hot coffee, putting ketchup on fries, etc, etc.

Q. Does the new "hands-free" law prohibit you from dialing a wireless telephone while driving or just talking on it?
A. The new law does not prohibit dialing, but drivers are strongly urged not to dial while driving.

Q. Does the new "hands-free" law allow drivers 18 and over to text page while driving?
A. The law does not specifically prohibit that, but an officer can pull over and issue a citation to a driver of any age if, in the officer's opinion, the driver was distracted and not operating the vehicle safely. Text paging while driving is unsafe at any speed and is strongly discouraged.


This is just silly and inconsistent. Texting and dialing while making a complex turn or at a bad moment are worse than actually talking on the phone.

And other than having one hand tied up, what difference is holding a phone, from being "hands free"? Conversations period can be a distraction. There can be consequences to trying to not spill coffee or hamburger dressing in your lap.

Of course, there is always profit to be made:
On Monday, last-minute shoppers were busy buying hand-free devices. A steady stream of customers trolled Aisle 76B at a Fry's electronics store in Industry on Monday afternoon, where there was some grumbling about having to fork over anywhere from $20 to $100 for Bluetooth earpieces. Half the aisle was already picked bare.

"I have no clue which one to buy," said Barbara Guerrero, a 33-year-old Mary Kay saleswoman running errands with her two daughters. "I bought one before, but it wasn't compatible with my phone. I can't afford to miss a call in the car, because my cellphone is my work number."

In Pasadena on Monday morning, Albert Hernandez walked out of a BestBuy carrying a $72 Bluetooth earpiece.

"I already bought one for myself, but I figured I should get one for my wife before it's too late," said Hernandez, 28, of South Los Angeles. "I haven't even taken my one out of the box."

He said he expected enforcement to be mixed.

"I have tinted windows, so I don't know how they'll see as well," he said.
Tinted windows, by the way, is one of those "no-no's", seldom enforced. I don't know the specific law here, but got pulled over once for a rear brake light, and the officer subsequently brought up the issue of my tinted windows (this was in Culver City by a CHiP). I pointed out how practically every car had them. He just shrugged, citing officer's discretion.

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3 Comments:

Blogger airforcewife said...

I don't like that an officer can cite someone because they "appeared distracted". How can you argue that? It's vague - sure I may have appeared distracted, but who is to say I really was? Doesn't there have to be proof of something there?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008 11:11:00 AM  
Blogger Marie's Two Cents said...

Word,

Since I have been back here in California, Gay Marriage has been passed, I found water has been diverted from the So. Cal Basin because a "Smelt" got caught in the water filtration system and God knows we have to protect the Smelt, No more Cell phones in Cars, and California is burning to the ground.

I dont think I can take much more of this.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008 2:35:00 PM  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Any law similar to this is simply a stupid law. There is already a check box in the CHP 555 form for the equivalent of distracted driving as PCF or Primary Collision Factor. If you outlaw this distraction, you should logically outlaw the radio, GPS, passengers, children.

BZ

Wednesday, July 02, 2008 12:06:00 PM  

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