Beginning July 1, 2008, residents of the state of California will be required to use a use a hands-free device if they want to talk on a cell phone while driving. This new law is being implemented in a bid to reduce the number of accidents related to driving while talking on a hand-held cell phone. While California and Washington will enforce this law in 2008, laws banning cell phone usage while driving already exist in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and the District of Columbia.
To highlight these laws and encourage people to change their driving behavior, Headsets.com, an online retailer of telephone headsets and headset accessories, will offer a free cell phone headset to anyone who sends them a copy of their traffic citation for
making calls while driving.
According to studies conducted by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, 2,600 people are killed, and as many as 330,000 people are injured each year in the United States, in accidents related to driver distraction from using a cell phone. “I just feel compelled to try and do something about this tragedy,” says Headsets.com President and CEO Mike Faith.
To deal with the expected influx of applicants to the program as new laws come into effect, the company has updated its Web site and set up a special toll free number, 1-800-HEADSETS for those that wish to start their free headset claim over the phone.
“We’d rather that people didn’t take calls while driving, hands-free or not,” says Faith. “There’s just no way you can chat on the phone and keep the same attention on the road.”
Faith notes however that the reality of the situation is that people will continue to do it, and he hopes this program will help those that are finding it difficult to change, to at least
take a step in the right direction by switching to a hands-free system. “Of course, we encourage everyone to pull over if they have to make or receive a call – it’s the only way to be really safe.”
According to David Strayer, Professor of Psychology at the University of Utah, “If you put a 20-year-old driver behind the wheel with a cell phone in their hand, their reaction times are the same as a 70-year-old driver who is not using a cell phone.” Simulations have shown that drivers talking on cell phones were 18% slower to react to warning signs such as brake lights, while driving and talking on their cell, and took up to 17% times longer to regain speed after braking, slowing down all road users.
Vinti Vaid is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Vinti’s articles, please visit her columnist page.
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