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Commentary: Awareness and Having a Plan B Hands-Free Option...

Wed Aug 12, 2009 - 4:07 PM EDT - By Annie Latham

Awareness and Having a Plan B Hands-Free Option...

You've probably noticed a theme in recent posts -- driving while distracted is a bad thing. It has always been bad, even before we all carried cellphones. Rather than continue to beat a dead horse on this topic, perhaps it is time to take it to the next level. Let's discuss awareness.

Awareness is standing in the 10 items or less line with... 10 items or less. The abuse of the Express Lane is something we've all witnessed. It seems like this happens because people know they won't get stopped or talked to about it. An aware person knows if the 10 items "rule" is ignored, the ripple effect is that the folks behind are inconvenienced.

Taking that a step further, let's look at this hands-free/driving while distracted thing. Sure, there are those who swear they aren't distracted or are convinced they won't get stopped or talked to about it. Besides, the fine is just $25, right? An aware person knows that being distracted means being unable to react to changing traffic conditions in a timely manner. It also means potentially crossing up those around you who may want to make a lane change but have to back off because they can see you aren't paying attention. Which makes me wonder... how much of commute traffic can be attributed to people not paying attention and then slamming the brakes causing a ripple effect that slows everyone up?

I am aware that there may be times where it is actually efficient to carry on a conversation while driving. Like when you are in bumper-to-bumper traffic at a dead stop with nowhere to go. That's when you could use a hands-free device such as a Bluetooth headset or speakerphone, or a corded headset. But remember, drive first. Hang up if things get dicey. Make sure you are aware at all times of your surroundings.

There IS an awareness thing I'd like to address -- Hands-free in an emergency...

The Emergency Option

You may have seen those "In case of emergency, break glass," signs in office buildings. Behind the glass is equipment like an axe or hose that can be used if there is a fire.

So here's an idea worth pondering: How about putting together an emergency hands-free kit that you can keep in your car's glove box? That way, if trouble arises, you can call for help or be reached without breaking the law.

Of course, the ideal solution is to pull over and make your call. But there may be times where that isn't an option. That's where this kit could help.

You are probably thinking, what kind of headset should I stash in my car?

I had been carrying a low-end Bluetooth. But it crossed my mind that if the battery is dead, I won't be able to use it. In fact, sometimes I look at it and wonder how much life it has left. Most of these headsets don't have indicators so how would you know?

Think corded...

The no-brainer solution is to get yourself a corded headset. For example, in our store there are five to choose from under $10 for the Palm Centro (2.5mm connector). In fact, there are three at $4.95: Jabra C150, Plantronics MX150, and Jabra C250.

If you have a Treo Pro, with a 3.5mm connector, your options are the Smartphone Experts Mono Earbud Headset for $8.95 or the BlackBerry Mono Bud Headset for $9.95. Either would be a welcome addition to an emergency kit.

Jumping off the Soapbox

Planning ahead is a good thing. Being aware is a great thing. Let's all do what we can to make day-to-day adventures smoother for us and those around us.

Now that's a wrap! Thanks for reading.

Note: Cartoon courtesy of theVentor.com.

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