As you may know, I have been working for several years with Colorado Senator Lois Court to pass stricter texting-while-driving laws in Colorado. As these things typically go, we’ve had to tackle this process in small steps, but we are starting to get excited about our chances this year to pass much tougher laws, which will make it illegal for anyone to hold a mobile device while driving. (If you’re interested to know where the law stands as you read this article, check out Senate Bill 2019-12, “Use of Electronic Mobile Devices While Driving.”)
Of course, I’ve heard from a lot of people who both support and disagree with this proposed law. However, there aren’t many (any?) people who disagree with this fundamental fact: texting while driving is dangerous. Rather, the people who disagree with hands free driving laws typically say that they need productive drive time to get their jobs or other work done. I understand this dilemma. While I would love to turn back the clock to a time when our biggest distraction on the road were the French fries we just bought at the golden arches, I know that there is no going back.
Therefore, I thought I would write an article about how everyone – no matter the age of their car – can drive hands-free in Colorado. (I’m going to assume that, if you want to drive and use a phone, you have a relatively new smartphone.)
How to Drive Hands-Free in Colorado
If Your Car Has Bluetooth, Use It! This is probably the most reliable and safest way to drive hands-free, but it can take a few minutes to set up, so park in your driveway and make the connection before heading out on the road. This process is different for Androids and iPhones, so use the car’s manual.
If Your Car Doesn’t Have Bluetooth, Add It! There are three easy ways to add Bluetooth to your car: 1) Universal Bluetooth car kit (least expensive and easy to install), 2. Bluetooth adapter or Bluetooth dongle (only if your car has a USB port), 3. Upgrade to a Bluetooth car stereo (the only way to get full Bluetooth functionality in any car).
Use Voice Commands: Once your phone is connected to the car via Bluetooth, and before you head out, practice using voice commands to make calls or to text. Honestly, my teenager had to help me with this. I’m so old-school that I thought I could only use my fingers to call or text. Nope. Try this if you have an iPhone: “Hey Siri, send a text to [pick a name.]” Then say, “Hello [name], I’m testing hands-free texting.” Then say, “Send.”
Put a Cellphone Mount in Your Car: My hope is that Colorado passes laws that make it completely illegal to hold any mobile device while driving. If, like me, you use a map application frequently, you’re going to need a car mount for your cellphone. I recently ran across an article in Instamotor that shared some pretty nifty gadgets to help you mount your phone in your car. My personal favorite is the one that uses your long-neglected CD slot for a mounting space.
Now, I wouldn’t be doing my duty as someone who passionately wants to create safer roads in Colorado if I didn’t tell you that the very best way to diminish distractions in your car is to turn your phone off while you’re driving. Even hands-free devices are distracting. The National Safety Council has conducted over 30 studies and all of them found that, while a hands-free device allows you to look at the road more and to use both hands to drive, it does not improve your “cognitive distraction” level. Meaning, your brain is still focused on the device.
If you have any questions about this article, or if you would like to learn more about the Colorado Senate bill that I’m working on, please call or text me at 303-388-5304. You can also learn more about texting and driving in Colorado here.