I live in a city that has banned cellphone use except for hands-free devices. I think it's a good idea. But I'm not convinced that hands-free means the driver is less distracted. I don't think it's the hand holding the phone that's the problem. I believe my driving is just as safe when I'm drinking a cup of coffee. I think it's the conversation while driving that causes the problem.
That has always made me wonder why a conversation with a passenger is not districting, yet a conversation on a cellphone is. I suspect it has to do with the fact that the driver and the passenger are both watching the road and the conversation naturally pauses when the driver has to execute a move through traffic.
When radios were first introduced in cars, there was outcry about driver attention.
I couldn't agree more wholeheartedly that driver distraction is a huge, huge problem for safety, but as much I know cell phones and tablets are the root cause of the distraction, I could never support a ban on cell phones and tablets in the car. It's just not realistic. Human nature is such that you can't give someone a capability that they enthusiastically embrace and then take it away. They're just going to do it any way. Therefore, the onus (and the opportunity) is really on the automotive and electronics engineering communities to dig deep and come up with some totally creative and innovative human interface technologies that allow us always-connected zealots to have our cake and eat it too.
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