Atta Ikede

July 14, 2008

Talking while Driving: The Lesser of Two Evils

Filed under: Uncategorized — attaikede @ 8:15 pm

July 1st 2008 was the day when a new state wide law came into effect in California. Talking on cell phones while driving is no longer allowed unless the driver has one of those hands free headsets.

This is a stupid law! Those hands free devices have been around for a while. People who don’t alread use them have made that choice for a reason. The government is betting that this law will be enough of an incentive (threat) to push the stragglers over the decision threshold and pony up for a dorky bluetooth headset, thereby making our roads safer (no more 1 handed driving/dialing). In reality though, this law presents the mobile gabber with a choice: (1) Get a headset (2) Talk without talking – i.e. text message!

Responsible people, fat fingered people, dim sighted people, people who need both hands to text, people who don’t know how to text and people who think it’s cool to use bluetooth will most likely opt for choice 1. That’s my speculation, anyway.

Irresponsible people, obsessive texters, compulsive email checkers, and people who think headsets are only appropriate for commission crazed sales people will embrace choice 2.

Texting while driving is definitely more distracting than holding a handset while driving. I mean, sure, dialing while driving can be a little tricky but after those 10 digits are punched you can basically zone out and yack to your heart’s delight. Rare is the conversation so compelling that it requires actual brain cells to compose your next sentence. What do we usually talk about? Boring stuff! Picking up groceries, running late, gossiping about people we know. But texting? repeatedly pressing those tiny buttons (or if you’re lucky and have a full keyboard, trying to hit the right tinier buttons), squinting at the tiny font trying to read the last message, trying to think of something witty for your response. Even the most banal conversation suddenly requires a bit of coordination and concentration when it’s texted instead of verbalized.

Of course, if the number of people who make Choice 1, and buy headsets, vastly outweighs the number who take the dangerous route and make Choice 2, the overall accident rate might decrease. But I dunno .. this is California. Land of the beautiful, image conscious, rich and tech obsessed. I think lots of people are going to make Choice 2. And I think lots of people are going to die!

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* Why the rant? A soccer teammate just drove me home from practice. she kept trying to log into her blackberry while we were driving and i was like .. umm… maaaybe just wait for the red light. I was freaking out a bit cuz i was giving her directions and there was a lot of lane changing going on but we were both alert so i figured it was ok. FInally she gave up and just called the dude she was trying to talk to. I said I’d be on cop patrol (cuz i bet the cops are going to go hardcore with the fines for the first few months). I’m no better though. I didn’t even buy a headset. Shh…

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