Tips for Driving Responsibly while Using Your Cell Phone
Safety issues regarding driving and cell phone use have received a great deal
of attention lately and, as a result, numerous research studies have been
performed. Some studies say that cell phones are responsible for an alarming
number of accidents. Others say that talking on the phone is no less dangerous
than eating while driving, which seems to provide some people with a rationale
for unrestricted cell phone use—even though eating while driving is distracting,
Nonetheless, all of the studies admit one thing: cell phones are a
distraction. Consequently, many local governments want to implement a variety of
restrictions—from requiring drivers to wear headsets to banning cell phone use
on roads altogether. Because let's face it, you really shouldn't be doing
anything while driving, but driving.
Whether or not legislation is enacted in your area, if you use a cell phone
in the car you should behave as responsibly as possible. And by following a few
simple suggestions, you can keep roads a lot safer—for pedestrians, for fellow
drivers, and for yourself.
Buy a headset
Headsets keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. They also
prevent the loss of peripheral vision caused when you hold a phone to your ear.
Initially, cellular headsets were awkward and uncomfortable to wear; however,
the ubiquity of mobile phones and intense competition have led to a lot of
innovative headset designs. While remaining unobtrusive, they can significantly
improve the sound quality of your conversation.
A variety of models are available through many distributors everything from
wireless headsets to in-the-ear models (that don't require microphone booms).
Mount your phone
Most cellular phone companies offer car kits that can be mounted on your
vehicle's dashboard. These kits usually include microphones and speakers, and a
few models use your stereo's speakers, instead. When inserted into the docking
station, your cell phone is immediately converted to a speakerphone while the
battery is charged. If you have more than one cellular phone in your family,
make sure you choose a car kit that is compatible with different models, and
different manufacturers. Many kits are compatible with multiple brands and
models, so you may not need to get more than one kit for the family car.
Make cellular voice mail more accessible
Since most people call their home or office voice mail more often than any other
number, there are a few things you can do to significantly reduce the number of
times you need to look at your phone. Almost all mobile phones allow you to
program pauses (they are usually signified by a "p" or a comma). After your
voice mail's phone number, program a pause and then enter your password. Then,
when naming the entry, use something like Zmail, so you can access it with a
minimal number of buttons. (With Nokia phones, the last entry in your address
book can be accessed with 2 button presses: "scroll down" and then "scroll
up.").¹ In such a scenario, you can listen to your voice mail by
pressing just 3 buttons (the third being "send").
Turn up the volume
When you get in the car, turn up the volume on your cell phone so you can hear
initial rings. When you miss them, you're more likely to be distracted as you
rush to catch callers before they roll into voice mail. Also, when you're on a
call, turn up the volume so you don't have to concentrate on hearing the
Avoid dialing while driving
If you're in the car with others, let someone else place (or answer) a call
while you concentrate on the road. If you need to talk, let your passenger hand
you the phone once the call has been dialed (or answered). Additionally, some
higher-end phones with speech recognition software allow you to speak a person's
name in order to dial their number.
Be aware of your surroundings
In addition to dialing, another major distraction of cell phone use is poor
reception, and your response to it. When you cannot make a call or begin to lose
the one you're already having, it's common to get angry and to repeatedly look
at your cell phone's
LCD to determine the area's
coverage. On the coast of Lima, Peru, in fact, so many accidents have occurred
from this specific type of distraction (caused by poor reception due to coastal
cliffs) that cell phone use has been banned in many coastal areas there.
If you're approaching a low coverage area (such as a tunnel or a mountain
pass) terminate the call voluntarily. Also, don't make or take calls when you're
in heavy traffic, near an intersection, or exiting/entering a highway.
Take important calls only
There aren't many conversations that can't wait until you've arrived at your
destination or that can't be postponed until you pull over. Tell clients you'll
call back because they deserve your full attention.
In the time it takes to glance at your cell phone a lot can happen—a stoplight
can turn red, someone can walk in front of your car, a dog can wander onto the
road, another driver can suddenly hit the brakes—and in that split second, an
accident can easily take place. So follow these very simple suggestions and keep
everyone on the road a little safer