By now, we all know that texting and driving is extremely dangerous. In fact, 46 states – all but Texas, Montana, Missouri, and Arizona – have banned texting and driving for all drivers. But what about handheld calls? New laws are being passed each week that require drivers to put down those phones in exchange for safety. Most recently is in the state of New Hampshire, whose hands-free law will be effective as of July 1st, 2015 and includes cell phone and GPS use. Vermont passed a similar law recently.
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According to the National Safety Council, crashes involving drivers talking on cell phones account for 21% of all accidents. In comparison, texting while driving accounts for 6% of all accidents, which makes the new laws a logical next step. While no state has yet to completely ban cell phone use, 14 states in addition to D.C., Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, and Guam now ban handheld use.
What You Should Know:
- Be Aware When Crossing State Lines
If you’re planning a road trip or heading across state lines for a visit, it can be beneficial to look up the driving laws. Some of these states have some hefty fines for driving while talking on cell phones and these can easily be avoided by a quick search. While some may be advertised directly along the highway, others may not be.
- Consider Investing in Bluetooth Wireless Calling
If you have a long commute or a well-formed habit of talking on the phone while you drive, consider investing in Bluetooth hands-free calling. Most cars have the upgrade available directly through the car's manufacturer, but if your vehicle is older you can still get the device installed. The Bluetooth on your cell phone will wirelessly connect to your car so that you can speak and hear through your speakers, without the need for any hands-on use.
- Invest in Approved Headsets
Another option besides Bluetooth is to use a headset. Most of the new laws allow for this option and it still gives you the privacy in conversation that a cell phone would, compared to loud speakers that all passengers can hear.
- Emergency Cases Acceptable
With these new laws, drivers should try to pull over to make all phone calls. The one exception to this law is in an emergency situation. Don’t hesitate to call 911 if you or someone else needs emergency assistance. The point of these laws is make roads safer, not to delay emergency assistance when someone is in need.
Consider Cell Blocking Technology
You know yourself better than anybody. If you think the temptation to look at your phone while driving might cause a problem, take precautions now. Protect yourself and those around you. There are many cell phone blocking technologies out there that are easy to use, affordable, and reliable. Just download an app and you'll be ready to go!
Will These Laws Help?
In the end, distracted driving is distracted driving. While new fines and increased enforcement should help keep drivers aware, there’s still danger involved. Talking on the phone in a car, even through hands-free devices, can divert attention just as other car passengers sometimes can. The most important piece of information to remember is to do your best to stay focused on the road, regardless.
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