Friday, July 11, 2008

The unintented consequences of the hand free cell phone law

While the new California law banning cell phone use without a hands-free device will be largely ineffective for reducing accidents caused by inattentive drivers (because any driver using a cell phone has the mental processing capacity of someone who is drunk), I've noticed an unwelcome unintended consequence. As a cyclist I rely on many visual clues to navigate traffic, and one of the major clues to the attentiveness of drivers on the road was seeing someone holding a cell phone to their ear. When I saw this I knew they were not paying attention to the road, less likely to use a turn signal, more likely to creep through stop signs and pretty much incapable of judging the speed of an oncoming bicycle. Now with the hands-free devices I can't tell who is on the phone or who is likely to be focused on something other than driving. It's made my commute worse. It's a bad law for many reasons (mostly because it legitimizes a behavior that should not be tolerated while driving), but I've come to realize that it probably makes bicycle and pedestrian travel more dangerous.

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