State legislators are increasingly mandating hands-free cell phone use for drivers. At the beginning of 2010, Oregon joined six other states that ban or severely limit using cell phones while driving. The traffic ticket for talking or texting on a hand-held cell phone in Oregon can cost a driver up to $142, similar to the fine for driving without a seat belt. Wireless devices give technicians the freedom to conduct business anytime, anywhere, and to stay connected with family, friends, and customers, but when it comes to using your wireless device behind the wheel, it’s important to remember safety always comes first. Safety should be every driver’s top priority. If it is necessary to use a wireless device while driving, the wireless industry encourages drivers to follow some basic rules to ensure that a wireless device doesn’t become a distraction.
Below are several cell phone safety tips provided by traffic researchers and public safety groups.
Keep calls short: Drivers increasingly lose focus during lengthy cell phone calls, research shows. If the conversation lasts more than 5 minutes, hang up and call back once you’ve parked.
Get to know your phone: Fumbling through a cell phone’s menus while on the road can be extremely dangerous. Practice voice dialing, speed-dialing, redialing and routing calls to voice mail.
Don’t look at caller ID: Most cell phones can be programmed to provide different ring tones for the people in your directory, such as family and friends.
Two things at a time: Many accidents are caused when cell-phoning drivers attempt to do other things — plugging in a power cord, fumbling for a pen, reading directions. Don’t compound the cell phone safety challenges.
Dial while stopped: If you must dial when the vehicle is in motion, hold the phone level with the windshield. Shift your eyes back and forth from the road to the cell phone. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says phones equipped with hands-free headsets and voice-activated dialing systems can sometimes require more time to dial, increasing distractions, however, using a hands-free voice activated device is excellent for receiving calls.
You’ve got voice mail: If a call comes in while you’re in an intersection, entering a freeway or engaged in similar activities, let the voice mail answer the cell phone.