As a driver, I have mixed emotions about the ban on hand held cell phone use in cars. It is no longer a proposed ban but will actually become law this October. 

I do agree that talking on a cell phone is a distraction and does affect your driving.  Even if you are good at multi- tasking, and feel you can talk and drive at the same time, you are only using one hand to steer your car. When I notice a car driving erratically, the driver of the vehicle is almost always holding a cell phone to their ear. Hands-free devices are not part of the ban, so you can use them. At least this way, when you talk, you’ll have both hands on the wheel while driving.

There are a lot of people who conduct most of their business on the road and are on the phone constantly. But I’m not one of those people. I only use my cell phone for “emergencies;” for example, if I’m stuck in traffic and late for an appointment. Being the mother of a teenager, an “emergency” also includes answering a call from my daughter who is wondering when I am coming home and if I could I pick her up a sub or a burger (for a teenager this is very high on the “emergency call” list).  But regardless of how and when I take or make cell phone calls they are rarely longer than 30 seconds and are infrequent. I make sure I only dial when I am stopped at a red light and I immediately put the phone on “speaker.” Unfortunately I am going to lose this privilege or face up to a $500 fine. I really feel that the ban is not meant for those of us who are careful and only make “maintenance” cell phone calls, but we are all being painted with the same brush.

By the way, the new law will also cover e-mailing and texting on hand held devices and drivers are also banned from playing portable video games and watching DVDs while behind the wheel (who on earth does this?). GPS systems are allowed but they have to be properly secured to the dash. You can use your cell phone to make 911 calls.

As I mentioned above, the fine for using a hand held device while driving could be as high as $500 but there are no demerit points attached. However, if you are using a banned device and are involved in an accident, you could be facing a dangerous driving or careless driving charge. These charges do carry six demerit points, a possible drivers license suspension and in some cases even jail time!!

Of course I will obey the ban when it becomes law, and I will get myself a hands-free gizmo of some sort or another well before the anticipated October rush.  I do hope that this law is respected by drivers and will produce the desired results.