cellphones in cars illegal - so where are the mike/speakers combinations that don't touch the head?

I think there are lots of laws in various places to prevent people from driving while talking using cellphones or possibly even hands-free headphones with mike. Well, fine, so how about a system that would basically consist of speakers (like radio/tape recorder and so forth) and a directional microphone with some sound filtering? The mike could be glued to the car’s roof, I guess, to be in physical proximity of the driver’s face.

Anyway, is this sort of stuff covered by the existing laws? Are there similar systems on the market? Are there inherent technical reasons why this will not fly even in the absence of government regulation?

ok, Wikipedia to the rescue. It turns out that some steps in this direction are made, from the Car phone - Wikipedia article:

So I guess things are moving in this direction, although no word about the government response.

Jupiter Jack?



My wife’s car has exactally what you are talking about. The car talks to the phone via bluetooth we hear over the speakers in the car and there is a microphone somewhere. If there are laws against hands free operation of phones I don’t see how this would get around them.

The problem is that talking on the phone while driving, no matter the mechanics, just seems to be unsafe.

Wouldn’t a law banning the use of “hands free” cell phones be written in such a way as to include any schemes to avoid the “phone” part…such as bluetooth integration or the Jupiter Jack or whatever else is dreamed up?

I mean, no matter how you do it you are still talking on your phone right? Even if the speaker source itself is not part of the actual phone device.

It seems to me like all of those would still be a “hands free” cell phone.

Rick can probably expand on this but there was at least one Volvo model a few years ago with this built in, used a speaker in the headrest and mike on the dash.

I’ve been using a little gizmo from Motorola that clips to my visor and does this, and optionally transmits the audio to my car stereo via FM.

Although not as safe as no phone at all, I do feel much more engaged with the task of driving than I did with the bluetooth headset, and vastly moreso than with the cellphone in my hand. Very much more like having a conversation with a passenger.

My girlfriend’s car came with this built in. Surely it’ll be standard equipment soon. It isn’t expensive.

Many of Ford’s recent cars come equipped with this – their name for the system is Sync. It connects to your cellphone (and other devices like mp3 players) through bluetooth, and plays the call through the car stereo. It must have a mic somewhere, though in my experience whatever mic is there isn’t quite good enough for clear conversation.

You can get all kinds of extensions of your car stereo system that connect to your mobile phone over bluetooth. It uses the stereo’s speakers instead of a headphone and it adds a small microphone over the driver’s head and in my dad’s car, a small control panel on the dashboard for connect/disconnect and selecting phone numbers from your phone’s programmed numbers.

This sort of thing is probably built in in some cars.

Same here. I think the physical distance between speaker and ear has something to do with it. It’s very easy to “drop” a conversation if the voice isn’t jammed right inside your cochlear.

Don’t most cellphones have a ‘speaker phone’ mode these days anyway?

It seems a little overboard to build speakers and a microphone into the car when you could just slightly up the strength of the speakers and microphone the phone already has.

The phone goes off, you use one hand to turn off the stereo and the other one pushes the speaker button on the phone. As you’re steering with your knees, you look down, squinting at the phone’s tiny screen to see who’s calling. I can’t see a downside at all. :smiley:

Can’t use your knees to steer because your legs are holding your soft drink and your burger is sitting on your lap. Best to just aim the car such that it remains in the lane, on corners you should be on the inside lane so you can cut a straight line across the shoulder and end up back in your lane once you’ve grabbed the wheel again.

Sorry, people, but your perception that you are paying more attention to your driving with a bluetooth than with a handheld cellphone has been proven wrong in study after study - it’s the having a phone conversation while driving that takes your attention away that’s the problem, not holding the phone. And yes, eating, putting on makeup, changing cds, etc. are all dangerous distractions while driving (someone always comes into these threads and says, “Well, eating while driving is dangerous, too,” like that makes talking on the phone while driving okay).

Jim and I were watching a commercial with a car that reads you your text messages and stuff, and we wondered out loud when the first lawsuit against either the car company or the manufacturer of the telecommunication equipment in the car would come, when someone is killed due to the driver listening to texts or talking on the bluetooth instead of giving driving his whole attention.

Agreed. I’ve mentioned this before and, still, have no cite for it; however, it seems that drivers’ eyes stop the unconscious back and forth scanning motion involved in safe driving when they start talking on the phone…ANY phone, hand-held or not. Again, my husband was talking on his cell phone while driving, pulled up to a red light, stopped and then kept going. We were extremely lucky no one was coming the other way!

does the same thing seem to you when you are talking to your husband sitting next to you in the car while driving? Or do you just think that punishing people for talking to fellow passengers is harder to ram down our political throats than prohibition of phone conversations that are, mechanically speaking, in this case not in any sense different?

When someone is a passenger in the car they react to the driving situation along with the driver, so not only do you have another set of eyes to help avoid a bad situation, you have someone who will tend to tailor the conversation around the driving situation, knowing to pause in the story if all of a sudden the driver is forced into a stressful situation. The person on the other end of the phone can’t see that you just had to merge onto the freeway in heavy high speed traffic and that you need to merge left across 3 lanes in the next mile or whatever, they’ll just keep on talking obliviously. I think a passenger would be cognizant of this and would talk less.

Yes, true. And the point is, having a conversation with someone who is not there seems to zone dudes out. After 5-10 minutes they just go into some sort of zone where they are barely aware of what is going around, they weave and drive slowly. Of course, you have no idea you have zoned out. As Apex Rogers notes, talking to a passenger does not seem to have the same effect, for reason he noted.

Now sure- eating, putting on makeup, changing cds, etc are also distractions. But dudes talk on cell phones for hours at a time, thus causing the zone out effect. The other things are but a temporary and short time distraction- I hope.

What about an old fashioned CB radio? Would those be covered under the cell phone laws?