Printed 2017/08/17 02:24AM

Operation Hands Free

By Andy Warren, 2008/07/30

Recently I was driving home and as I made that turn into the sub-division where I live, over the course of the next mile I noticed three of three cars going the other direction were all holding a cell phone to their ear. I hope most of you by now have realized that there is a fundamental difference in how we drive when talking to a passenger (or using headset or speaker phone) and how we drive when we actually hold the cell phone to our ear. I haven't looked into the science to see if proven, but my own observations (and now a few state laws) seem to support that, my guess being is that when we hold the phone we focus harder/differently than we do in conversation.

So, what's the point?

If you agree me with about the dangers of cell phones while driving, why don't we do something about it? No, I'm not thinking a chain email or a cute icon for your blog, but something more direct - why don't we influence the people we care about today? Do your children, parents, spouse, close fiends, all use some form of hands free? Wired headsets have been around a while and while reasonably idiotproof, I've always found them to be a pain and I suspect the same for many others. Moving to bluetooth, whether headset or speakerphone, requires a 10 minute trip into technical matters, after that it just works. Maybe Grandma can't set up bluetooth, but I bet she can use it!

If you haven't looked, the options are fairly inexpensive. For example, the Bluetooth Headet ($26) (I use this one myself, works fine), or a car speaker phone like the BlueAnt SuperTooth ($100). Corded headsets work, using the speaker phone on the cell phone works, but the downside is a little juggling to answer it and get the spaker phone on (but still better than holding the phone).

Not often I'll propose social engineering here, and in this case it's only because technology is an elegant solution and we are very comfortable with technology. If the only thing stopping someone close from being safer is a technology hurdle (or the cost of the technology) we're ideally suited to help with that. And on the social scale, doing this doesn't earn you any karma, it's something you do because you want to take care of people you care about.

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