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Hands Free

"You'd drive a lot better with that cellphone up your ass" was a favorite bumper sticker of mine back when mobile phones were new.

I hardly ever place calls when I'm driving, but I will take them. And I've been known to continue a conversation in the car that started elsewhere.

Only with a headset, though, because that feels less crazy-stupid-dangerous than holding the damn phone up to my ear and driving with one hand.

(Studies suggest I'm wrong that about that--a phone conversation, even hands-free, is apparently much more distracting than talking with a passenger, and any conversation is more distracting than listening to the radio.)

It's still perfectly legal for drivers to yak on the phone where I live. But if we pass a law like those in the UK, I'll be ready, because today, these guys installed one of these in my car. And boy is it cool.

And boy were they nice! Their philosophy:

You'll talk on your phone while driving no matter what we say. So we have Bluetooth handsfree kits for what we hope is safer driving. They mute the radio automatically, so you can enjoy your music without worrying about missing a call.

In other words, I can throw my phone in the glove box, crank up the U2, and still catch you if you call me.

But I'll keep it brief and call you back when I'm safely parked, okay?

Poll #646399 Do you yak?

Your relationship to mobile phones

If I could implant mine in my brain, I would.
I don't even have a land line.
It's useful, I guess
Emergencies only
I don't have a cellphone

Talkin' and drivin'

Not an issue: I never use my phone behind the wheel.
Not an issue: I don't drive.
Hands-free only. I'm not that daring.
Call me crazy: I talk and drive routinely.
Hell, I'll send text messages while I'm changing lanes on the freeway.



( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 6th, 2006 02:19 am (UTC)
I wanna see the gender split on those studies. I'm convinced women parallel process better than men. And I'll never buy that talking on the phone is more dangerous than having one or two or three possible distractions sitting in the car with me.
Jan. 6th, 2006 02:49 am (UTC)
And I'll never buy that talking on the phone is more dangerous than having one or two or three possible distractions sitting in the car with me.

I know you already know I agree with you on this, just had to say it: word.
Jan. 6th, 2006 03:00 am (UTC)
The studies I glanced at (and "glance" is the operative word) suggested negligible differences between men and women, but every one I found was sort of inconclusive. Possibly funded by cellphone providers? I don't know.

The passenger conversation was deemed less dangerous than the phone conversation because the passenger is witnessing the same road conditions you are and, presumably, knows when to shut up. This, I have found, is less true if your passenger is a child or a non-driving adult.

My mother finds audiobooks distracting to the point of danger and even has some trouble with music. I don't find any one-way listening thing distracting at all.

But I have to admit, when I'm talking on the phone, my attention does seem to be divided in a way that it's not under other driving circumstances.

By going hands-free, it's my thought that I will limit, but not eliminate, the hazards. 'Cause at least sometimes, I'm gonna be talking and driving--that's just a given.
Jan. 6th, 2006 03:26 am (UTC)
Well I don't ever talk unless it's hands-free. It can go to voice mail, it's just not that important. I drive a standard, and expect to have both hands on the wheel or one on the stick, but in any case, they're occupied. And I agree with the general idea that my attention is split in a different way than listening to the radio, but not that it translates to me being a worse driver. I think having people in the car is more distracting because there's a built-in expectation that at some point you will make eye contact, be it glancing over, or looking in the rear view. And then there's the whole, I can't hear you so I'm going to crane my head unnaturally, blah blah blah. Anyway, I heard about the existence of a study(s) quite a while ago, but I live in United States...so it's my perogative to ignore science. :)
Jan. 6th, 2006 03:29 am (UTC)
Prerogative? Dammit, woman, it's your God-Given Right. And Your Duty As an Amurkan.

It's interesting that in the UK, they allow handsfree use but prohibit (and fine quite steeply for) handheld use while driving. There are also worse criminal penalties if, in the event of an accident, the driver causing it was found to have used known distractions. And mobile phone calls (if the crime shows are to be believed) are so very easy to prove.

Turns out this is a much more interesting--and politically loaded--question than I could have imagined.
Jan. 6th, 2006 03:44 am (UTC)
And I totally support the system they have there. That seems completely reasonable to me in every way. Wonder what they're studies showed? ::grin::
Jan. 6th, 2006 03:00 am (UTC)
I like having the convenience of a cell phone but I don't use it a whole lot, probably because I'm not so much a phone person. (Although if it weren't for our fax machine, we wouldn't have a landline at all.) str8ontilmornin and I use them to touch base with each other when we're at work, since we don't get to see each other a lot through the day. We thought we'd use them more for long distance calling to save money but that's only really turned out to be true for him; since I talk to family so rarely, I don't usually think of it when I call them.

My usage in the car had gone up, however, from "never" to "a few times a week", since prime_meridian and I often talk on the way to or from work (hands free only; I don't answer my phone if I'm in the car and the headset isn't already plugged in).
Jan. 6th, 2006 03:03 am (UTC)
It's funny, the unexpected things that change your technology use. I remember you showing me your little thumb-QWERTY keyboard phones, and thinking how I could see no use for text messaging, then wham--one trip to England and I'm hooked.

Sounds like you and I have very similar driving-and-talking patterns.
Jan. 6th, 2006 03:06 am (UTC)
Ayuh. I used to think the same thing about texting and then as you say, we got our QWERTY Nokias and now str8ontilmornin text as often as we actually talk. As you say, funny thing, that.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )



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