Get ready for change in cell-phone usage

The countdown has started for hands-free calling here in our state. It can’t come soon enough.

The countdown has started for hands-free calling here in our state. It can’t come soon enough.

Starting July 1, motorists will have to use a hands-free device when operating a wireless phone while driving a vehicle.

While there are few statistics to prove the danger of driving a vehicle while holding a wireless phone, it seems obvious that one hand on the wheel and one hand holding the cell phone isn’t the best way to maneuver a 3,000 pound vehicle through congested traffic.

Fortunately, consumers have a number of choices available to help them comply with the new law, from universally compatible headsets to phones with built-in speakerphones and voice-activated dialing. Most phones can be fastened easily to a car’s vent or visor and removed when you leave the vehicle. No installation or hard wiring is necessary.

Drivers also can opt for a hands-free car kit, which provides a cradle for the phone and an external microphone. Using it also complies with the new law.

Verizon Wireless offers some common-sense tips for cell phone use. Before leaving the curb:

• Activate your voicemail service if you haven’t already, so you won’t miss a call if traffic conditions prevent you from answering the phone. You can retrieve your messages later.

• If you’re taking advantage of any navigation service, program the address into your phone before you leave the curb, either on the handset or online, then you’ll only need to listen to the directions.

• Program important and frequently dialed numbers into your phone to take advantage of speed dialing and voice dialing features on your phone.

• Set up your playlist on your device, or any music player, while you are stopped.

• Turn your phone to speakerphone or put on your headset. Many phones have speakerphone capability.

Here are two other bits of advice that should be obvious:

• Never take notes or write down phone numbers while driving. Rather, pull off the road to a safe spot or leave yourself a message on your voicemail or voice-memo-capable handset.

• Never view or send text or multi-media messages or video downloads while driving.

Cell phones are a wonderful device as long as we remember that when we’re driving a vehicle, we should be concentrating on the driving.

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