California wants you to drive with both hands

California wants you to drive with both hands

Summary: California legislation to ban the use of cell phones without a hands-free system is getting closer and closer to being law after passage in the Assembly. The Senate must now approve it and then Governor Schwarzenegger must sign it to become law in 2008.

TOPICS: Mobility

It isn't a law quite yet, but a bill in the California assembly that will ban the use of cell phone without a hands-free device headset or other type of system has now passed. The bill continues on to the Senate for final approval and then to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for signature before becoming law, but there are indications that the Governor favors the bill and it may become reality. California Highway Patrol stats show that people with a phone in one hand against their head were responsible for 25 times more crashes than those with a hands-free system. David Berlind pointed out a study from 2005 that showed the accident rate is the same with and without hands-free phones. I think holding the phone up to your head is definitely a distraction and have personally seen drivers cutting people off and driving erratically as they try to stay on the phone while driving in lots of traffic or turning. I think people are a bit distracted even with a hands-free system, but at least they can turn their head in all directions, keep both eyes on the road, and keep two hands on the wheel. It looks like that iLane device I talked about a couple months ago may have a good target market in California soon. I personally have a Parrot 3200 LS-COLOR system installed in my truck and use it all the time for calls. In other vehicles I use a Cardo Scala 500 Bluetooth headset and will not buy a mobile phone without Bluetooth integration. Palm issued a press release stating they are the first and only current cell phone manufacturer to support the passage of the bill.


Many Assembly Republicans voted against the bill because of the government intrusion aspects and the slippery slope this type of legislation takes us down. If talking on a cell phone without a hands-free device becomes a law, then what about eating, doing your make-up, yelling at your kids, reading advertiser's billboards, etc. that also cause lots of distractions while driving? I think cell phones are the target right now because it is an easy thing to see a person doing while driving even though there may be lots of other situations distracting the driver. If the legislation becomes a law and kicks in in 2008 then drivers will be cited US$20 for the first offense and US$50 each time after that. 911 and emergency calls are currently exempt in the bill and two-way push-to-talk phones, like those from Nextel, may also be exempt for certain occupations.

Topic: Mobility

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Why such little fines?

    Exceeding the speed limit in order to keep up with traffic and maintain better traffic flow is punishable by at least $100. Talking on a cell phone while driving on the freeway is FAR more dangerous and yet the fine is only $20? What's up with that?

    As much as I dislike the idea of a nanny state, it appears that far too many people have neither the ability to drive safely while on the phone nor the personal discipline/courtesy to leave the phone alone while on the road.
    • Why such small files?

      I suggest at least $500. At the bill's terms, it isn't cost-effective to pull people over.
  • Just don't get it...

    I mean I understand there *may* be those VERY RARE times that a person needs to take or place a call while on the road, but come on people, believe it or not the world will not end because you can't use a cell.

    I mean think about it, there really was a time without cells and the world managed to move along just fine.
    • If the call is really that important

      then pull over and take / make it. Otherwise drive. It's really simple. Still don't have a cell phone... don't need one or want one. ]:)
      Linux User 147560
  • Here's a novel idea

    How about "both hands while driving" we use "engage brain while driving". This includes makeup, dining, etc. Any activity that demands prolonged focus on the drivers part needs to be done while stopped.

    Violations should be ticketed as Careless and Reckless with current point and fine penalyies.

    Don't come whining about "nanny state", it is accepted practice to regulate the operators of vehicles on a public roadway.

    Personally, I don't give a s**t if your call is important, it aint as important as someones life.

  • one hand and the brain, please.

    ""How about "both hands while driving" we use "engage brain while driving". This includes makeup, dining, etc. Any activity that demands prolonged focus on the drivers part needs to be done while stopped.""

    Some people can't drive, even with both hands...

    I don't like the idea of the State, or anyone telling me, you can't use the cell phone while driving. However, to face the facts of driving and using a cell phone question, a properly trained driver will drop or throw down any other diversion(i.e. hot coffee, lipstick, phone, eating, reading book, using computer) when the time comes, and have a death grip on the wheel(both hands) and-one-attention-that-of-protecting themselves...
    TO FACE THE FACTS, IT'S THE BRAIN DEDICATED TO THE PHONE CALL, NO MATER HOW TRIVIAL, rather than being dedicated to the driving and the dangers of the road; That's were the problem lies.

    That said I still don't want a law which dictates you cannot use the cell phone whenever you want.
  • Been there, done that

    Australia already has legislation to prevent you using a mobile phone while driving. Just a few too many idiots crashing and killing people while chatting was enough for it to become law.
  • Funny, isn't it?

    When was the last time you saw a professional race car driver talking on a cell phone in the middle of a race? (And no, I don't mean the two-way radio built into their helmets.)

    People who talk on cell phones while driving have decided that their time is more valuable talking than driving. That the call is more important than their own life; and that the call is more important than your life and property.

    Single vehicle accidents involving the use of a cell phone, in which only the driver is involved and no other property damage, I'd just as soon have the insurance company tell them, "Sorry, it's not covered in your policy. You foot the entire bill."
  • I pull over

    I've never liked the idea of trying to talk on a cell phone while driving, so I pull off to the side of the road before calling (I'll usually let it ring and then call back for an incoming call). Since I now drive with a stick shift, this makes more sense to me than ever before.
    John L. Ries
  • Research and Conflicts

    I am aware of the study that determined hands-free drivers did not reduce their risk of accident. I'm also aware of European studies that show a clear reduction in risk factors when hands-free phone systems are in use while driving. Personally, I use ordinary common sense to decide which study has more merit. -=JD=-
  • Mobile Phones

    Worse still - trying to create (or read) a text message while driving. This takes your eyes off the road for an extended period.
  • RE: California wants you to drive with both hands

    I think it would just be a simple solution like putting a jamming device in the car that was on when the engine was running that would be best. If you can't receive a call you wont be distracted and if you must make a call all you need to do is pull to the side of the road and shut off the engine.