All driver education students have heard their instructor repeat abundantly: "Be sure to keep both hands on the wheel and eyes on the road."" But, as we become experienced drivers, we all know how arduous of a task this can be. As drivers, we become inclined to munch on our Big Macs, gaze at strangers, listen to music, and now, even converse on cell phones. Talking on phones has become the most popular driving trend to hit the road in recent years. With the increasing use of cell phones comes the public fear about driver distractions, and already a number of cities have passed laws restricting its use in cars. But, such laws are ineffective because cell phones aren't the leading distraction on the road, and hands-free devices are not better than hand-held units. .
The debate to ban handheld cell phones was spawned in New York when state Assemblyman Felix Ortiz witnessed a crash involving a driver using a cell phone (Verhovek). Mr. Ortiz instantly sponsored a bill banning the use of cell phones while driving. In November 2001, the bill became law and New York was the first state to enact such a ban. Under this legislation, drivers are only permitted to use phones equipped with a hands-free device, such as a headset or a built-in speakerphone. The advantage of a hands-free kit is that it lets you talk without holding a phone in your hands. Penalties for not obeying the law carry fines of up to $100. Localities in Ohio, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania were struck with similar precedent setting accidents, and legislation limiting cell phone use was ratified. Since then, bills are being debated within the local legislature as well as the Federal government that would restrict cell phones behind the wheel. .
Still, lawmakers have allowed the use of hands-free phones, believing that the extra concentration needed to manipulate the hand-held phone is responsible for most accidents.