As you may or may not know, earlier this year in Illinois, it became state law that one must use a hands-free way of talking on their cell phone while driving. The law is still relatively new, though rumor of the “grace period” where local law enforcement took it easy on breakers of this new law for a few months is over.
Being the law-abiding citizen I am, and lover of technology and shiny gadgets, I’ll admit that until this new law was enacted, I didn’t have much Bluetooth or hands-free experience with my phone, short of turning it on speakerphone and placing it on my lap while I drive (like about 40 percent of you probably still do). Speakerphones on smartphones, even in 2014, are still terrible in quality, and you still get distracted by having to turn it on and off and what-not. So what’s the point, right?
Look, this new law, no matter how inconvenient it might feel, is meant to save lives, and I’m for it. I do take some flak for wearing my Bluetooth headset around everywhere, but after you wear the thing for a few days, you wonder why you ever spent time picking up your actual phone and holding it to your ear. That’s so 2004.
The trick? You’ve got to spend a little money to get a good headset. If you go into Walmart and buy a $24 headset, you’re going to get $24 quality. Trust me when I say that an awful lot of technology is crammed into these things, and the more you spend, the better the experience will be. A good Bluetooth headset, like the one I use and highly recommend, the Plantronics Voyager Pro, will run you about $75 online, closer to $100 in the store. But again, you have to hear me out on this… as a man who loves nothing more than a good deal on a new toy, you absolutely cannot cheap-out on these things. Mine, for instance, not only has three internal microphones (one is dedicated solely to noise-cancellation, while the other two pick up HD quality voice), it also whispers in my ear when someone calls and allows me to answer/block/ignore calls with a simple voice command, and a bunch of other really useful features I haven’t even tapped into yet.
I mean, not only are they practical and provide you the ability to multitask (stay-at-home moms and dads – there is no reason why you shouldn’t have one of these bad boys in your ear), but they’re just plain cool! Oh, and did I mention mine streams HD-quality music in my ear from my favorite music app (Pandora, Spotify, iTunes)? Yeah, that’s right.
But, we go back to safety. I’ll leave you with some very concerning statistics about the dangers of using a hand-held device while driving. Scary stuff.
- Using a cell phone use while driving, whether it’s hand-held or hands-free, delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. (Source: University of Utah)
- Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent. (Source: Carnegie Mellon)
- The younger, inexperienced drivers under 20 have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes.
- Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)