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practicing for July 1

By enelson
Tuesday, June 24th, 2008 at 12:45 pm in Misc. Transportation.

So, the other day my mobile phone ear bud with in-line mic finally fell apart for the last time. I tried popping its perforated plastic cap back on, but apparently the wires were crossed or something and people can’t hear me when I talk.

Or so they tell me.

So today, in preparation for the long-awaited July 1 activation of State Sen. Joe Simitian’s hands-free mobile phone law, I practiced talking on the phone while scanning the freeway for CHiPs.

Mind you, I can make this public confession because it’s still June 24, albeit 21 months since Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the hands-free bill. I could talk on the phone legally today, but in one week, I’d be facing a $20 fine for the first offense.

Now, I try not to be a scofflaw, especially when it comes to laws that make sense. But $20, as many of you have already noted, is more than I pay for gas in a day.

Luckily, I have experience with such laws, having driven for three years in Israel. I never learned what the fines for disobeying the hands-free law there were, although I noticed that cab drivers often had their little ear-bud wires hanging from their mirrors.

I had one, too, but the combination of my cheap, pay-as-you-go phone and the unamplified earphone meant that any rough road surface was enough to make it impossible to understand the party on the other end of the line.

I don’t know what the statute of limitations is on such things, so I’ll only say that once an Israeli police cruiser pulled alongside of me on Highway 1, pointed to his ear and motioned me to the shoulder.

He pulled over about 20 yards ahead of me, presumably to avoid the blast in case I was more than just a pelephone perp. I waited for about 5 minutes. Then, without even getting out of his car, he turned on his flashing lights and roared off.

In that way Israel is like Oakland. The police have better things to do than fuss over your lack of an ear bud.

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10 Responses to “practicing for July 1”

  1. murphstahoe Says:

    I am going to try and run a cellphone count for 30-40 minutes the workday before and after the switch at some intersection in SF, and measure conformance to the law. I predict zero change in behavior. As a cyclist I have been trained to look for people using their cellphone – I have a much better perspective to spot it and it’s more important to me than most drivers. Hand Cellphone use on the streets of San Francisco probably exceeds 50% during rush hour.

  2. Capricious Commuter Says:

    I can’t speak to San Francisco, but I would guess that on I-80 between here and Fairfield it’s about a third. That is, I’m on my phnone about a third of the time, and I think everybody else is, too. The really sad part is that so much of my time on the phone, I’m talking to the computer at 511, asking for driving times.

  3. MikeOnBike Says:

    When I’m in my car, I’m using the phone’s built-in speakerphone. It’s a lot easier and less distracting than fussing with cords or getting Bluetooth to pair up.

  4. Capricious Commuter Says:

    I tried my phone’s speakerphone. It works when you’re on a very smooth road or riding in a limo, but otherwise there’s so much external noise that the person on the other end has a really hard time hearing me. I know: Whine, whine, whine.

  5. MikeOnBike Says:

    To get the microphone closer to you in speakerphone mode, clip the phone to your visor. Make sure the microphone is pointing toward you.

  6. Capricious Commuter Says:

    good idea. i’ll try that.

  7. murphstahoe Says:

    I’d prefer you try waiting until you are out of your car to make a phone call :(

    Actually I don’t care what you do on the freeway, that’s no skin off my back. But on surface streets? I came *this* close to reaching in and taking the phone from someone who almost hit me as she was texting and driving the other day. Next time it happens, I’ll take it and throw it on the sidewalk.

    And when they get out and go chase their phone – I’ll be reaching for their KEYS.

  8. John T Says:

    You mentioned the $20 fine. Remember that with fees and penalty assessments, first offense is $76 and a second offense is $190. Event with high gas prices, that’s a lot more than I pay for gas in a day!

    see for more details.

  9. Capricious Commuter Says:

    John, thanks for setting the record straight on that point. Sounds like the fine would actually equal a tank of gas for your average small SUV driver.

    But seriously, I’ll keep that in mind for future references to the fine.

    Murphs., as for the calling while driving, I don’t think I’ve ever been able to drive around San Francisco while chatting on the phone. You need both hands and concentration just to navigate, to say nothing of avoiding your one-person Critical Mass!

  10. duicylights Says:

    I have to say I’m really impressed with your posts and blog overall. I stumbled on your site accidentally but am now happy I did. I’ll be stopping in to read more often now. Thanks again !

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