POLL: Should We Just Ban All Car Conversations?

A leading Bay Area newspaper columnist suggests we should go beyond present laws, and ban all vehicular cellular conversations.


Einstein says we should stop.

A leading Bay Area columnist who writes a weekly tech article for the San Francisco Chronicle, David Einstein feels it's time to eliminate the ability of drivers in cars and trucks to carry on phone conversations while driving - even by using the legally allowed, hands-free bluetooth devices.

In his May 14 column published on Monday, Einstein is asked to recommend a bluetooth headset by a reader who wants to stay within the law, but also wants to talk while driving. Often in his columns, Einstein makes personal recommendations of specific items in the tech world, be it computers, routers, apps, or in this case, a bluetooth headset.

But Einstein pulls a abrupt u-turn and applies the brakes to this driver:

"Sorry. In the past, I've answered questions about hands-free calling while driving, which is mandated under the law in California and elsewhere. However, recent evidence suggests that hands-free calling may be just as dangerous as using a mobile phone the regular way.

In December, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended a nationwide ban on all mobile-phone use while driving, and I can't disagree. It's true that texting and dialing are the most distracting activities associated with mobile phones. But it's also hard to focus on the road while having a phone conversation. It isn't what's in your hand that causes accidents, it's what's in your head.

Hands-free advocates, including car companies that put the technology into new models, argue it's safer than holding a phone. But that doesn't mean it's safe. My advice: Keep the phone in your pocket or bag until you're parked."

Is Einstein correct, that it's what's in your head, and not your hand, that causes accidents? Have we been too liberal in creating laws that allow cell phone conversations in our vehicles? Are we so far down the road that we'll never be able to turn back?

Or, can the case be made that work efficiency for many increases with the ability to travel and talk. Think of the traveling salesperson; are they hindered if we remove their ability to talk to clients when driving to appointments?

What are your thoughts? We'd like to know. Leave a comment for us, then vote in our poll below.

TGD May 21, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Since most calls are just idle BS anyhow, just turn the thing off and learn to use your turn signal.
Kathie Fosgett May 21, 2012 at 06:33 PM
I agree....I would like to know, though, why we saw TWO Sheriff's Deputies driving their cars/vans in downtown San Carlos on Saturday morning (near Hometown Days) holding cell phones up to their ears while they were driving through heavy traffic with tons of pedestrians - many of them children. Are they immune from the 'hands free' law?
TGD May 21, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Police, fire and other rescue/enforcement agencies are exempt. I believe some commercial truck drivers are also.
K May 22, 2012 at 12:07 AM
I see people talking on their phones in their cars all the time. I think there is distraction in trying to conceal it. Where we live, the ocean beauty seems to be the largest distraction. I've seen many of the accidents on the one near the slide and surfers beach that show it. The current law seems sufficient, if not enforced...
K May 22, 2012 at 12:10 AM
Sorry, just realized this is Millbrae, but you get what I mean, there are many distractions...


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