Batesville, U.S.A. – 1.05.12

Batesville, U.S.A. – 1.05.12

Posted: Friday, January 6, 2012 2:46 pm
By: Sabrina Bates, News Editor

“Hands off my hands-free”
The notion to ban all cell-phone use in the vehicle has become a hot-button topic across the nation.
In case you haven’t read about it already, in early December the National Transportation Safety Board called for a ban of all cell phone use in the vehicle, including the use of hands-free devices or Bluetooth wireless headsets.
While the board can offer the recommendation, as it has done, to states, it does not have the authority to enact such a ban.
I can completely understand a ban on texting and driving. When you are looking at a cellphone screen to text a buddy while driving, you risk crashing into me and anyone else on the road.
I want the texting and driving ban.
These days, phones have become more than just a device to talk and text. You can check your Facebook account, read your emails, browse the Internet, watch movies. Should you do all of this while you’re driving – of course not.
The NTSB has publicly announced it reached its recommendation after a decade-long investigation into distraction-related accidents as well as concerns that powerful mobile devices are giving drivers even more reasons to look away from the road.
Banning cell phone use is a growing trend, as nine states across the county have banned the use of hand-held phones and 35 states ban texting and driving. Tennessee is among those who have the texting ban in place.
The auto industry through the years has evolved into today’s technological society by incorporating hands-free systems into the vehicle. My van, which is a 1998 model, offers me a chance to link my cellphone using Bluetooth connectivity.
When a call comes in, the van’s speakers alert me there is an incoming call and who it is from. I can then touch a button located directly beside my GPS screen to answer the call and start talking to the person on the other end through my speakers.
It is such a handy tool. I don’t even attempt to talk on my cellphone while I am driving without the Bluetooth connected through the speakers.
I am that spoiled by it and I just feel absolutely uncomfortable trying to drive and hold a phone up to my ear. I would say that is definitely distracted driving.  
To eliminate hands-free cellphone use in the vehicle is a big deal to me. Using a hands-free approach to make or receive phone calls while driving is as distracting as have a conversation with my daughter in the backseat while I am driving down the road.
In comparison, why wouldn’t you eliminate the GPS systems installed in vehicles? I would think  DVD players installed straight from the factory in vehicles are also a “distraction” as you can hear the movie playing while you are driving down the road.
It will be hard to enforce if it ever becomes a state law. I will conform, of course, if it does become a law, as much as I dislike the recommendation.
What bothers me more is the idea so many accidents are related to electronic distractions. We are not responsible enough to know what is a distraction behind the wheel and apparently lack enough common sense to pay more attention to the road than to our text messages and cellphone conversations.
People should be held accountable for their actions and unfortunately, in our system of government, one rotten apple spoils the bushel, thus leaving everyone to fell the effects of a ban – responsible driver or not.
Time will tell if a ban will go into effect.
For now, the person who holds the power to establish such a rule has commented the use of hands-free devices is not a “big problem” in this country.
U.S. Transportation Sec. Ray LaHood has been quoted to say the focus should be on texting and hand-held cell calls.
Hold to that opinion Ray and let me keep my Bluetooth on in the van.
Send me your comments by email to wcpeditor@frontiernet.net.

WCP 1.05.12

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