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Palm and the New Hands-Free Law

Mon Jun 30, 2008 - 3:53 PM EDT - By Jennifer Chappell


The Official Palm Blog has posted an interesting article and video about the new California hands-free law that will be going into effect tomorrow. The video features Joe Simitian, Senator, 11th District of California and the lovely Mary E. Doyle, Senior VP, General Counsel, Palm.

Doyle says that when Senator Joe Simitian, the hands-free bill's sponsor, was looking for support, Palm was the only handset manufacturer in California to support the bill. Simitian said that it took six years to get the bill passed because there was tremendous opposition from the cell phone companies:

Year after year after year, the same folks who told their customers, "Don't drive while you're holding a handheld cell phone", would show up in the Capital and say, "We oppose the bill".

A CNN article reported in November of 2007 that according to the Department of Transportation, distracted driving is responsible for 4,000 to 8,000 accidents per day in the United States.

Mary Doyle talks about distractions that can cause accidents:

Any distraction causes accidents. If you're down here texting, right? That causes accidents. If you're reaching for your coffee or for the radio, or to talk to the kids in the back, or try to adjust the movie, or any of that stuff - it all causes accidents.

That second sentence above really got me. I can't imagine someone texting while driving their vehicle. Many times, it's all I can do to talk to someone sitting in the passenger seat while I'm driving. If someone is telling me something serious or vice versa, my mind is distracted. I'm guilty of attempting to dial someone's number while driving before. That didn't work out for me very well as I'm not much of a multi-tasker. After trying to locate the person's phone number in Contacts and seeing how dangerous it was to try and keep my eyes and mind on the road while attempting the task, I just reached over and dropped the phone in the passenger seat and decided that I could just call that person later.

Now I was just trying to find someone's number, not actually dial it, but that was bad enough, and I shouldn't have been doing that. Texting someone while driving just seems insane to me! Think about it; you'd have to be holding the phone to where you can actually type in words and maybe even sentences, depending on how long the message might be. Even on my street where the speed limit is 25 mph, it's sometimes hard to brake quickly when a rabbit or cat runs across the road in front of my car. This happens quite frequently. Imagine someone driving down a freeway at 65 or 70 mph, texting! If a another car suddenly starts to whip over in that person's lane or a deer comes bounding across the freeway, I seriously doubt if the texter is going to have enough time to react in a safe way. Nope, you might as well just go ahead and chalk that one on the wall as an accident.

Sometimes I think that we get so used to driving that we don't actually comprehend that we are sitting in a ton of metal on wheels and that it only takes a split second for disaster to occur. I've seen accidents happen and I've been in them myself. They happen in a snap of the finger, but things can change forever.

Senator Simitian says in the video that the issue the hands-free bill deals with is control:

So the issue that the hands-free bill deals with is one of control. Yes, you'll still be distracted, but you'll have control of the vehicle in that moment of emergency, and that's the moment that makes a difference between life and death.

I'm glad that California is putting this bill into action, and I hope that many other states follow suit. I'm proud that Palm supported the bill. I hope that the other handset manufacturers wake up and do what is right in the future. There are so many hands-free devices out there to choose from and many of them work very well as you know if you've read Annie and Jay's recent articles regarding the hands-free bill.

I'm glad that my Palm smartphones are equipped to work with hands-free devices. Mary Doyle mentioned Palm's Treos and Centros in the video:

Palm's Treos and Centros have always been equipped to support hands-free use. They've all been equipped with speakerphones since I've been using a Treo or a Centro product. They also are equipped to support wireless and wired headsets, and they also support voice dialing.

Let's make the roads safer for everyone. Pay close attention when you're driving and don't let yourself get distracted. If you're going to talk on the phone while driving, whether you live in California or another state, please make sure that you have a hands-free device for your phone.

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