Dear Ms. Smartphone: I saw your last post about using hands-free phones. For the last few years I have been doing food delivery and having a phone in the car is a necessity. I keep it on my lap or next to me. This new law is going to cause me a lot of hardship and slow me down. They can’t enforce it anyway so what’s the big deal? R.D., Boston
Food delivery must be taxing, and hopefully you will not be distracted by either your Big Gulp or your smartphone! I honestly think that our growing demand for home delivery plus the desire to be continuously connected shortens the time until autonomous vehicles.
To Enforce or Not…
But, to answer your question, an officer could pull you over if they saw you on the phone, say they looked down from an overpass, or pulled along-side you at a stop. For background, see the Florida image. But I agree: officers are going to be cautious about enforcement. The background is Whren v. United States (1996). The lesson: don’t drive erratically and get pulled over.
I used to think phones were not necessary in cars but I cede that opinion. Most of us have lost our way-finding skills, and traffic apps add value. They help us select the best route, anticipate bottlenecks and slowdowns, and provide voice-overs to navigate your crazy round-abouts in Boston.
Knoweth thy phone commands…
Drivers with newer cars and trucks will stream their phone through the car’s audio system. But here are some additional tips for those with older cars and phones.
Get acquainted with the voice commands on your phone. You may be able to place a call, or answer one, by using voice commands like Siri or Alexa. It is a misnomer to think that these calls are distraction free, but they will, at least, help keep your eyes on the road.
Second, make sure the screen-lock is set functionally. Then you won’t have to touch the phone to wake-up it up, or worse, key in the password. The screen-lock settings are generally found under ‘general/display/auto-lock.’
And, Knoweth Not!
Finally, newer phone operating systems have a feature that detect motion in your vehicle and are supposed to automatically divert an incoming call to voicemail. On the Iphone this feature is buried under accessibility. Full disclaimer: Dear Smartphone has not been able to set up this feature successfully and struggles to turn it off for good.