Maine’s new “Hands Free” law: necessary or impractical?

As a driver in Maine, I will admit I was annoyed when I heard about the new law put into effect on Sept. 19. I was peeved that I would not be able to switch my playlist on my five hour drive home. I was mad that I would have to buy a ten dollar phone mount that blocks my heat vents so I could navigate my way around Maine. I was also bothered by the fact that there are millions of other, more dangerous things drivers do than hold their phones, yet I could lose my license if I am seen holding my phone. 

I will not pretend that texting and driving is not an issue; I will even admit that this law will probably contribute to safer driving practices, but all in all, I don’t have confidence that the new “Hands Free” law is going to work any miracles in terms of making the roads safer. 

There are a lot of things more dangerous than holding a phone, for example, holding a food or beverage. If I had a hot cup of coffee in my hand and needed two hands to drive, I would be a lot more hesitant to drop that on my lap than to drop my phone on my lap in a split second decision. Also, I know a lot of drivers who eat breakfast on their way to school or work or stop and get some snacks for a long road trip. Unwrapping a bagel is a lot harder than glancing over to see which street I have to turn onto. I have even known multiple people who eat with utensils while driving. 

In addition, technology in new cars, such as CarPlay, is arguably more distracting than a phone. Many new cars have CarPlay which is essentially your phone’s screen magnified several times right onto your dashboard. I am young and fairly technologically able and I find CarPlay difficult to navigate, so I am skeptical to believe it is easy for everybody else.

Honestly, I think turning on seat warmers in some newer model vehicles is more distracting than changing a song.  To be clear, I am not supporting the use of cell phones while driving. I understand plenty of accidents are caused by texting and driving and distracted drivers. I simply think this new law is a bit frivolous with all of the other distractions allowed while driving. 

That being said, I understand it is easier for law enforcement to create laws regarding cell phones while driving in comparison to coffee mugs. However, prohibiting the use of a phone while at a red light is perhaps not the most important focus to increase safety in our streets.