POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Aug 8, 2010
Recently this newspaper ran a front-page story about more than a half-million dollars that had been paid by drivers defying the year-old mobile-device ban.
It's been just more than a year since the City and County of Honolulu enacted a ban on mobile devices while driving. Since then, the neighbor islands have followed suit.
Every driver on Oahu knows the score.
Still, despite the possibility of paying an expensive ticket, people continue to defy the ban, sometimes brazenly. We all know that talking on the phone while driving diverts our attention, but it is legal to drive while using hands-free devices, like Bluetooth headsets. So folks, if you want to talk, you still can and be legal. What you'll need is a hands-free device such as a Blue Tooth headset or speakerphone.
Newer cars come equipped with Bluetooth that connects your phone to speakers and a microphone in your car. Many of us have seen the VUE commercial to see how that works. As for devices, I consulted with my buddy Kiman Wong over at Oceanic to see what his preferences were.
Let's start with the speakerphones first.
Kiman says the Blue Ant series is top rated, particularly the Blue Ant S4 model, which has good voice quality recognition but costs around $99. (I saw them on sale for $89 at Best Buy). You also can consider the less-expensive Blue Ant Supertooth 3 for $65. Motorola and Blackberry also carry models.
If you prefer the blue tooth headsets you park on your ear, you can choose from the usual suspects such as Plantronics, Blue Ant, Motorola, Aliph Jawbone, Samsung, Blackberry and others. Expect to pay in the neighborhood of $50 for something pretty good.
A new application that I have been testing is Text'n Drive. I use it on my iPhone, but it is also available for Blackberry and soon for Android phones. This application reads me my text messages and or e-mails from my personal e-mail account. I also can answer verbally and it will convert it to text and send out the response.
I have found it very useful while driving as I can still receive e-mails and texts while keeping my hands on the steering wheel. It does have issues with pronunciation of some Hawaiian street names, but generally does pretty well. (See textndrive.com for more information).
We can all be safer drivers if we do our part and use these devices. They have all become quite affordable. If not, please pull over in a safe place should you have to immediately take a text or a call.