It's a classic case of "Do as I say, not as I do." I recently told my soon-to-be-licensed, 16-year-old daughter that if I caught her making calls or texting with her cell phone while driving, I would take her wheels away.
Her response was, "I don't think I'm capable of driving and talking/texting," and her next words were, "I don't think you are either."
My daughter's comment made me realize that I must practice what I preach; that is no more texting or calling while I drive.
Some states have taken the decision whether to text/call while driving out of motorist's hands. As of July 1, two new laws — one requiring drivers to use a hands-free device while talking on a cell phone and a second banning drivers under age 18 from using a cell phone or a hands-free device while driving — went into effect in California.
While the laws' benefits are many, the means of enforcing them are up for debate. Some officials say they'll issue warnings for a month or so, then start fining motorists. Other officers say they plan to hand out these tickets whenever they encounter the violation; stressing a cell phone-talking motorist poses extreme danger to himself and others. Other law enforcers say they'll use this violation as a gateway to nab motorists for other, more serious, offenses. For instance, an officer may pull over a motorist for cell phone use but issue other citations for things like drug possession or drunk driving as well.
Though few states have hands-free cell phone laws in place (California follows New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington state and the District of Columbia), more are sure to follow. What will your department's policy be when these laws pass in your state? How will your officers handle these violations?
Wisconsin doesn't have a hands-free cell phone law — yet. But I'm changing my tune. Unlikely to give up talking while driving, I've purchased a hands-free device for added safety. From now on my motto will be "Hang up and drive."