New Washington law bans hand-held phones while driving

SEATTLE (AP) — Driving with one hand on the wheel and the other on a cell phone is no longer an option for Washington state drivers.

On Tuesday, they join more than 28 million others nationwide who have to hang up their cell phones or use hands-free devices. Violators can face a $124 ticket.

“We’ll continue to see more legislation as more devices go in a car,” said Matt Sundeen, who has monitored cell phone laws for the National Conference of State Legislatures. “A lot of people agree these types of devices are distracting, but the real question is — are they so distracting they need some type of restriction?”

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California and Washington are just the latest states to enact laws that prohibit the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. Both state permit hands-free devices.

This past year, 22 state legislatures considered similar laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. A handful of states — like New York and New Jersey — already have laws in place. Lawmakers in Louisiana recently sent a bill to the governor’s desk.

But traffic-safety advocates say the new laws will have little impact.

“Laws like Washington’s probably will have a big effect on making people feel good about passing a law but zero effect on highway safety,” said Russ Rader, a spokesman for the Virginia-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

However, the new laws could have a big effect on businesses that sell headsets and related projects.

In an investors report issued last week, analysts at Morgan Keegan said they expect a revenue increase of at least $12 million in sales from California and Washington from June into August for Plantronics Inc., a California-based headset manufacturer.

A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that drivers using cell phones are four times more likely to be in an accident. That study suggested that limiting cell phone usage to hands-free devices doesn’t have much of an effect.

It’s the talking that distracts people, traffic-safety advocates say.

“If you continue to allow hands-free phoning, you haven’t addressed the safety problem,” Rader said.

In 2007, there were more than 141,000 collisions in Washington state, and reports on 158 of them listed “operating” a hand-held device — such as a cell phone or an MP3 player — as a contributing factor, according to the state patrol.

“What we’re trying to get across is that when you’re driving, you need to be driving,” said patrol Sgt. Freddy Williams. “It’s going to help keeping both hands on the wheel, but you need to focus on driving, especially at freeway speeds.”

New York, the first state to pass a law against hand-held cell phone chatting, issued more than 81,000 tickets in 2002, the first full year the law was in place. By 2007, the number of tickets jumped to more than 312,000, according to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles.

New York State Police Lt. Glenn Minor attributes the increase in tickets to police officers becoming more accustomed to looking for the violation.

In North Carolina, which banned teenagers from using cell phones while driving, cell phone use increased after the law took effect, the insurance institute report said. Teen drivers didn’t think the law was being enforced.

Among people on Seattle streets, reaction to the new Washington state law was mixed, although people agreed that using a cell phones is a distraction and may lead to accidents.

“I’ve been in close calls … because I was not paying attention,” said Tony Championsmith, 55, who bought a headset after his latest close call. “Luckily, the other drivers were paying attention.”

Source: MANUEL VALDES

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Drivers of all ages take caution

 

Lately, a lot of people have been talking about the new teen driving laws that start after August 1. The first time I heard about them was a few weeks ago. The subject was brought up during school — “Some new stupid law” is being enacted that tells us when we are allowed to drive, and who we are allowed to drive with. The general reaction was, well, not happy, to say the least. No one really knew any details at the time, but there were lots of different opinions being tossed around.

I read the news release about the new laws in last Sunday’s newspaper. Actually, my mom came up to me, read it to me and said, “So what do you think about that?”

 

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I didn’t really know what to say. To be completely honest, I was a little ticked about the passenger rule. Has anyone looked at gas prices lately? Realistically, for a teenager, the biggest expenditure is most likely gas. No one wants to have to drive places all the time because it’s so expensive. For my friends and I the solution has been car-pooling. When we can only have one passenger in the car at a time, it really cuts back on the car-pooling solution.

I was also upset about the no driving between midnight and 5 a.m. law. The law was made because nighttime driving is dangerous for teens, but why is it dangerous? My mom always tells me that she’s not worried about me as a driver, she is worried about the other drivers out on the road. I’m guessing that the majority of drivers on the road during those hours are adults, and I’m going to go even further out on a limb and say they are either heading out to the bar or heading home from the bar. It really bothers me that laws are being put in place to regulate teen driving when adult driving can be just as reckless.

I saw some of my girlfriends last night; there was all the usual ‘girl talk,’ and then someone brought up the new driving laws. Once again, the general reaction was not happy. The topic was argued about and the details were cross examined — “I heard this, no I heard this.” You get the idea. I think in general most of the girls were mad about the no driving between midnight and 5 a.m.

On my way home I couldn’t stop thinking about the new laws. Two of my friends needed rides, and their houses were on my way so I volunteered to bring them both home. After I dropped them off I realized that me helping my friends out, in this case, would’ve been breaking the law. The more I thought about it the more angry I got.

Then I realized it’s not necessarily the regulations that the laws require, it’s the plain simple fact that there are laws at all. Call me crazy, but I’m pretty sure most teenagers hate being told exactly what to do and when to do it. Maybe that’s stereotypical, but I think that’s why I got so worked up about it.

What my question is, is “When did it become the government’s job to tell us when we can and can’t drive our cars? Isn’t it our parents’ responsibility to be telling us when to come home each night?”

I know that the laws were made for our safety, but at the same time I feel that they take it a little too far.

Reckless driving is constantly blamed on teens, but I know that adults in this town can be reckless too. I was hit by a car last week, and it wasn’t my fault. The other driver was an adult and I’m sure he had lots of driving experience, yet he still smashed into the driver’s side of my car when I had the right of way. Everyone makes mistakes when driving; we all get a little too confident that we won’t get pulled over, or that nothing bad will happen to us.

All I ask is that all people, of all ages, start to drive with a little more caution and consideration, because not all accidents are to be blamed on teenagers. Take time to slow down, and think about what you’re doing. A little consideration on all our parts will lower the accident rate a lot faster than a few laws.

 
By Breanna Walker
Grand Rapids Herald-Review Intern
Published: Saturday, June 14, 2008 3:06 PM CDT

CellPoint Partners with Rookie Driver.Net to Promote Safer Driving

 

‘Hands-Free Across Maryland’ Campaign to Raise Awareness of Safe Driving Practices and Increase Accessibility of Hands-free Headsets for Area Drivers During National Safety Month

 

Toronto, ON and Spring Lake, MI – June 9, 2008 – CellPoint Connect AB, developer of high-end Bluetooth headsets, today announced it has partnered with Rookie Driver.Net, a product development company dedicated to promoting driving safety among teenagers, to launch the Hands-Free Across Maryland campaign in an effort to increase awareness and implementation of safe driving practices among Maryland residents.

 

Hands-Free Across Maryland is the first campaign developed jointly by CellPoint and Rookie Driver.Net.  As part of the partnership’s initial campaign, CellPoint will offer drivers the chance to win a free Flamingo Bluetooth headset by entering a contest on the Rookie Driver.Net website, an initiative aimed at decreasing the use of handheld cell phones by drivers.  Additionally, all Rookie Driver.Net customers who purchase a Rookie Driver product will receive a voucher for a $20 discount off the original purchase price of CellPoint’s Flamingo Bluetooth headset.  The contest and promotion will run from June 9 – July 9 in recognition of National Safety Month and Distracted Driving Week, a program designed by the National Safety Council to address the most significant reasons for unintentional injuries.

 

“While many states have implemented hands-free device laws, it is imperative that drivers become educated about the dangers of using handheld devices while operating a motor vehicle” said Michael Mathiesen, Chairman of the Board, CellPoint.  “CellPoint recently launched a driving safety informational website and campaign in Norway together with a local traffic safety organization, which has had great success informing the public about safe driving practices.  In partnership with Rookie Driver, we hope to have the same success in helping the community understand the benefits of using a hands-free device and make these products readily available for Maryland drivers.”

 

Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of death and injury in the United States.  Many states have implemented bans on using handheld cellular phones while driving in order to reduce the number of car accidents and subsequent injuries and fatalities.  However, studies continue to show that a large portion of accidents occur when the driver in at least one of the vehicles involved is using a handheld cell phone.  Through Hands-Free Across Maryland initiatives, CellPoint and Rookie Driver.Net will inform parents of teenage drivers about the safety issues involved with using handheld cellular phones while driving.

 

“Research shows that parents are the most influential role models when it comes to their teens’ driving habits,” said Corinne Fortenbacher, President, Rookie Driver.Net.  “It is imperative that parents accept full responsibility by taking a ‘show by example’ approach concerning driving distractions.  Cell phone use by new teen drivers is not allowed in Maryland, but parents can teach their children the importance of using hands-free devices so when they are fully licensed, they understand the value of using a less distracting device.”

 

The Hands-Free Across Maryland campaign will conclude on July 9, at which time contest winners will be notified of their prize.  Interested parties can visit http://www.RookieDriver.Net for more information, to enter the Bluetooth headset contest, or to purchase safe driving products.

 

 

About CellPoint Connect AB

CellPoint Connect develops, manufactures and markets the Flamingo Bluetooth Headset, a wireless headset using patent-pending EarClick™ technology for a comfortable fit and also nXZEN and nX6000 with extreme ”noise cancellation” technology. All products are compatible with Bluetooth devices such as mobile phones and computers. CellPoint Connect has offices in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, China, Canada and the USA with markets throughout Europe, North America, Latin America and Asia. CellPoint is listed on Stockholm’s AktieTorget (www.aktietorget.se) with the following ticker symbol: CPNT. More information can be found at www.cellpoint.com

 

Disclaimer

This document may contain forward-looking statements relating to CellPoint’s operations or to the

environment in which it operates, and CellPoint’s strategy, litigation and investments, which are based on

CellPoint’s operations, estimates, forecasts and projections.  These statements are not guarantees of future

performance and involve risks and uncertainties that are difficult to predict, and/or are beyond CellPoint’s

control.  A number of important factors could cause actual outcomes and results to differ materially from

those expressed in these forward-looking statements.  These factors include those set forth in other public

filings.  Consequently, readers should not place any undue reliance on such forward-looking statements.  In

addition, these forward-looking statements relate to the date on which they are made.  CellPoint disclaims

any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new

information, future events or otherwise.

 

EarClick™ and nXZEN™  are trademarks of CellPoint Connect AB and Bluetooth® is a registered trademark of the Bluetooth SIG, Inc.  iPod™ and iPhone™ are registered trademarks of Apple.

 

 

About Rookie Driver.Net

RookieDriver.Net develops and markets a line of car magnets to alert experienced drivers that there is a novice driver behind the wheel.  Rookie Driver® is the only symbol awarded a registered trademark by the US Patent and Trademark Office to nationally recognize new teen drivers.  The firm has grown from a single product, launched in 2006, to a leading online provider of new driver safety aids.  RookieDriver.Net’s products are designed by teens and can be found at http://www.RookieDriver.Net.

 

 

About National Safety Council

The National Safety Council (www.nsc.org) is a nonprofit, nongovernmental, public service organization. Members of the NSC include businesses, labor organizations, schools, public agencies, private groups and individuals. Founded in 1913 and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1953, the National Safety Council is committed to preventing accidental injuries in the workplace, on roads and highways, and in homes and communities.

 

 

For more information, contact:

 

Melissa Whitney

Ricochet Public Relations

(212) 679-3300 x118

mwhitney@ricochetpr.com