California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed legislation that prohibits the use of handheld mobile phones while driving in the state.
Effective July 1, 2008, the legislation prohibits drivers from using a wireless telephone while operating a motor vehicle unless the driver uses a hands-free device. Drivers who violate the law will face a base fine of $20 for a first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense.
The law allows drivers to use a wireless telephone for emergency purposes, drivers of commercial vehicles to use push-to-talk phones until July 1, 2011, and allow drivers of emergency response vehicles to use a cell phone without a hands-free device.
California joins Connecticut, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, New York, and some local jurisdictions ( as in counties, but not whole states ) in prohibiting the use of handheld mobile phones while driving.
Speaking of the "Governator", another thing he's pushing for is to have California residents take measures to help reduce global warming. One thing Arnold's asking drivers to do is to drive less or use more fuel efficient cars. Makes sense. That's one of the things we as motorcycle commuters are trying to do. Part of treading more lightly on the Earth is to emit less pollution. The word on the street, though, is that Arnold's usual mode of transportation is one of four Humvees or his private jet. Is this a case of "Do as I say and not as I do"? Let the little people bear the brunt of the sacrifice. Typical government. Anyway, I digress.
I'm not sure that using a hands-free device on a cell phone is going to help much. I had this brilliant idea while I was riding in the pouring rain the other day. I watched a person in a BMW car weaving around in their lane on the freeway. Guess what she had glued to her ear? I'll give you three guesses and the first two don't count. ( sorry, old redneck saying ) Anyway, here's my idea.
I think people going in to take the driver's test should be tested while talking on a cell phone. They should have to call into the DMV office and talk to a co-examiner. This co-examiner should do their best to be distracting during the conversation. You know, asking questions that require deep thought, telling jokes, etc. During the actual drive test there should be harmless but realistic hazards encountered. Inflatable dolls ( get your mind out of the gutter, I'm trying to keep a "G" rating, here ) could pop up in crosswalks, cardboard cut-outs of cars could be pulled quickly across intersections, along with other entertaining things we could all think of. If the student could successfully deal with these while carrying on a cell phone conversation then they could get their license. At least they would have shown an actual ability to multi-task. Not the imagined ability that most people think they have.
If a student driver would actually tell the examiner that they just couldn't see how it would be safe to drive and talk on the cell phone ( gasp! ) the test would be terminated and the student passed on the spot!
Here's a couple of questions for you all.
Do you think hands-free devices actually reduce the hazard a talking driver poses?
If a driver were using an ear piece you couldn't see the cell phone glued to the driver's head. As a motorcycle commuter would you prefer to see the actual phone, thus having more warning as to the hazard this driver represents?
Just some food for thought and a possible friendly discussion!
Miles and smiles,