Driving while holding a cell-phone in “speaker” mode, is not safe OR legal!

This is not a legal use of a cell phone in California! It doesn't have to be held next to your ear to be dangerous and illegal.

Distracted driving continues, even as the CHP and local law enforcement claim they’re doing a big crackdown on it this month. In the photo shown here, you see a woman holding what looks like a pink-cased iPhone in one hand, sorta kinda driving with the other, as if somehow holding the phone in front of you is better than holding it to your ear. The reality is that this is probably the most-dangerous phone use of all, because she’s spending most of her time trying to figure out how to not look like she’s using a phone.

After seeing this, I felt compelled to get the message out to more than just our almost-daily-diary fathtful, so I emailed Gary Richards, aka Mr. Roadshow of the San Jose Mercury News-

Gary: I’m seeing an increasing number of drivers who believe that it’s OK to drive and use your cell phone if it’s in speakerphone mode and not held to your ear. I’ve attached a photo of someone doing that this morning. The relevant information is here- http://dmv.ca.gov/cellularphonelaws/

Q: Does the “hands-free” law allow you to use the speaker phone function of your wireless telephone while driving?
A: Yes, as long as you are not holding the phone.

Please remind your readers about this. If you have to hold your phone to talk on it, it’s illegal, plain & simple. Thanks!

I received a very quick reply from Mr. Richards, promising to bring it up in his column.  –Mike–

4 thoughts on “Driving while holding a cell-phone in “speaker” mode, is not safe OR legal!

  1. As a traffic officer, these actions disturb me. Driving and talking on the cell phones has got to stop, i have seen countless people injured and killed because of these behaviors. How important is that phone call really, worth someones life. I am a motorcycle rider and a bicycle rider. I ride my trek madone on the road daily and commute with my kids on their bicycles to school. Everyday i see close calls with these behaviors. Sad.It is only getting worse with the younger generation, i see young drivers constantly texting all of the time.

    1. I got a ticket today for using a handheld phone on speaker mode not close to the ear. My situation was I answered the call and placed it on speaker and intentionally place the hand held device while on speaker on my console so I wouldn’t be holding it. I also do have a blue tooth wireless device and a bluetooth ear piece which I did not use for some reason. Going back I answered a call and was about to place it down but an officer saw me holding the device. Now should I pulled over first and place it on speaker or I can answer it on speaker and go on with the call with the phone placed on the center console. So I’m not sure if I can contest this scenario. Officer saw me holding the phone when I was about to lay it down to continue the call.

      1. Wow I just read your question but saw no answer to it. The very same thing just happened to me. Did you contest it or not? It happened just as I was approaching a stop light. The officer saw me with the phone in my hand and talking, but all the while I was transferring the call to my blue tooth and I never had it near my ears. I still got the ticket.

  2. Besides the legal issues, which vary from state to state or country to country, using a cell phone while driving is not safe, period.

    Research has shown that the issue is not so much that your hand is busy with the device, but that your head is. Unlike a conversation with a passenger, who can see what’s going on around you as well as you do, the person talking to you on the cell phone is unaware of when you have to make a turn or merge lanes or other drivers happen to do stupid things, suddenly requiring your undivided attention. The remote caller will keep talking even when you get busy as a driver. Chatting to a passenger and talking to a remote calling are two entirely different situations.

    Hands-free speaker phones do not address the real issue: that your head is no longer 100% in the car when you talk on a mobile phone.

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