Is hands-free really safer?

October 30, 2009

The National Post asks Is hands-free really safer?.

Actually holding a cellphone to your ear to conduct a conversation would, at first blush, not appear as dangerous, but then you do often have to avert your eyes to manually key in a phone number, so the loss of the traditional phone call while driving is not to be lamented. In fact, were our provincial legislature more brave, it would have banned an even wider list of activities all too common to modern motoring such as applying lipstick, reading the newspaper, editing manuscripts and even changing diapers (yes, indeed, I have seen that one). The common thread to all these activities is that they require diverting your eyes from the road ahead, which is very dangerous when you’re driving.

Hands-free regulation bugs me. I think people should be safe and use hands-free technology whenever possible. The key is increasing overall safety. I use a bluetooth headset when making calls in the car. My LG Chocolate is brain-dead and does not allow me to use voice dialing through the bluetooth headset so I use speed dials on the keypad which I can do by touch.

Incoming calls and unplanned outgoing high priority calls are another matter. I’d like to think that I am capable of weighing the safety costs rather than have a well-meaning but sometimes misguided law that states that if I’m holding a cell phone to my ear I am breaking the law. I understand that a clear-cut law is better than the subjective opinion of a police officer and/or judge, but the regulation still bugs me.

Perhaps its just my own conceit to believe that I make above average cell phone while driving decisions, above average LCBO bottles in the blue bin decisions, above average incandescent light bulb decisions, and above average grocery plastic bag re-use decisions.