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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 28, 2010 3:53 AM. The previous post in this blog was Lie after lie after lie. The next post in this blog is False positive. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

No excuses

Acting on a tip from the smarties over at WW, I headed over to FreeHeadset.org a couple of weeks ago and ordered one of their cell phone headsets for the car. I paid less than four bucks for shipping and handling, and zero as the purchase price.

The thing got here yesterday, and it's cool. It's a single earbud on a wire, with a mini-microphone in the cord at just about shoulder level. When it's plugged into the iPhone, the mike also serves as an on-off switch. If the phone rings, you click the little mike thingie under your chin, and you're on the air with your caller. When the call's finished, you click and you're done; it hangs up the phone.

This isn't going to enable you to place calls without breaking the law against phoning while driving, but at least if you think you've got one coming in soon, you can just plug this baby in before you start the car and be confident that you're not going to miss anything by actually paying attention to what's going on on the road around you.

For less than $4, you can't go wrong. That's about two days' worth of internet service on the smart phone, and it might keep you from killing somebody.


Comments (19)

I know this comes off badly and sounds like a scold, but you are being deceived if you think hands-free is any safer. We'd like to believe that, it would be nice if it were true -- but it's not. Controlled tests of reaction times show that it's NOT the involvement of the hands that is causing the risk, it's the involvement of the mind in the telephone call that's the cause of the impairment.

http://www.iii.org/media/hottopics/insurance/cellphones/

You have expressed concern about health effects of the tiny amounts of low-energy radiation from your cell phone. Given your concern for that risk -- which good studies have dismissed -- it seems you would be concerned about the much, much more serious risk of deaths and serious injuries caused drivers using cell phones.

We bought our last couple of phones through Costco, and they give you a wired headset like that, a car charger, and a leather case as part of the membership deal.
You can also get headsets & such pretty cheap off Ebay.

You might try clicking the mic thing while you don't have a call coming in if you're running iPhone OS 3.x. It might just activate the voice command thing, which would allow you to say "Call John Q. Wallet" and it will.

Also, should you have your phone plugged into the car stereo, you could also use this for controlling the iPod. "Play playlist 70's funk" for example.

It works with my bluetooth headset, might work with your wired bud as well.

George is correct.

Using hands-free cells is just as dangerous, if not MORE dangerous than using a typical hand-held cell.

This demonstrates that legislative committee hearings are not to collect and assess pertinent information about issues, but an opportunity for our elected officials to preen before the telecommunications lobbyists. Stupid legislators...

The headphones that come with the iPhone have a Mic and a switch built into them. Just don't put one of the ear buds in and you'll have the same effect.

Also, a bluetooth headset, while spendy, tends to work better since you won't potentially get tangled up in a cord and you can place the phone within eye line so that you can determine who's calling and whether it is important enough to take.

:facepalm:

So if talking to someone on a hands-free headset is so dangerous, what about talking to the person in the passengers seat? Do we need to put a cone of silence over the driver so they can't communicate with anyone?

Michael,

There is something about the different level of concentration needed when talking on a phone vs talking to a live person next to you.

The studies linked to above are pretty clear.

Michael, in addition to glancing at the research, you might just pay attention some time when you're a passenger -- note how often, when things get hairier in traffic, the conversation dies down ... passengers have a very strong vested interest in seeing that the driver is not too distracted, unlike the person on the other end of a call who has no way of knowing what conditions are. Many passengers are also good at helping manage distractions (radio, snacks) for the driver, so the driver is not trying to do so much.

When I'm talking to someone on the phone, I usually also am visualizing them. Possibly what makes cell phone conversations dangerous while driving is that your mind's eye gets in the way of your real eyes.

The headphones that come with the iPhone have a Mic and a switch built into them.

There's a microphone, but I didn't think there was a switch of any kind.

I just checked -- there's a mike but no switch on my iPhone out-of-the-box earbuds. And so if the phone rang in the car, I'd have to pick the phone up and slide the slider dealie over to answer the call. Hard to do with one hand and pretty much impossible without looking down at the phone. No, thanks.

The iPhone headset does include a switch. It lets you answer and end calls along with controling the iPod player

http://www.apple.com/iphone/how-to/#basics.introduction

Click on Stereo Headphones

The mic on your iphone headphones is the switch. Give the little rectangle on the cord a squeeze - it will softly click. You can answer calls and pause/restart music, and if a call comes in while your listening to music it will automatically put the song back on when you hang up the phone . It will also turn the mic on to activate the voice commands. It wont control the volume though.

Well, I'll be darned. The iPhone should have come with a little instruction book! Wait 'til I tell the Mrs.

I am just not cool enough to understand Apple products.

Cool or not, you'll be impaired either way:

http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/Drivingissues/20060830105036.html

Hi Jack,

Thanks for the detailed review. We greatly appreciate you assistance in spreading the word about our program! :)

Kind Regards,
Matt MacAdams
Founder
FreeHeadset.org

Of course the ban on using hand-held phones doesn't reduce crashes, but it does pad the budget with fines:

http://www.technewsworld.com/story/Study-Cellphone-Bans-No-Boost-for-Road-Safety-69235.html

http://www.katu.com/news/national/83051442.html

An interesting quote:

However, while cellphone usage has tripled since 2000, the risk of crashes has declined.

The reason cellphone bans aren't reducing crashes is that they all have exemptions for hands-free devices. As for the (overall) decline in crashes, I suspect this is due primarily to the increasing social stigmatization of drunk driving and secondarily due to the ongoing evolution of highway design and car safety systems. I very much doubt that the rate of crashes due to cellphone use has declined since 2000.

As others here have pointed out, there is no safe way to hold a phone conversation while driving. None. The conventions of telephone communication demand that each participant formulate and deliver an immediate response every time the other party stops talking. Doing this takes a tremendous amount of concentration, and that is why phone use cannot be compared to, say, playing the radio or conversing with a fellow passenger. Indeed, having a hands-free device probably makes matters worse by instilling a false sense of security and fostering more behind-the-wheel phone use. I suspect the telephone companies that are undoubtedly funding this "free" headset promotion are counting on that very outcome.


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