A week ago today, a new Maryland law went into effect making it illegal to use a cell phone while driving without a hands-free device.
In theory, this is a great law. In theory. But as Homer Simpson would say, “In theory communism works. In theory.”
In reality, however, this is usually still a good law. Driving with a cell phone SHOULDN’T be legal. Just like how radar detectors probably shouldn’t be legal in any state. But I’m really glad they are in most of them.
Unfortunately, in the last week, I’ve proven that I personally am the exception to the rule, because somehow I’m a MUCH more dangerous driver when I have to worry about my Bluetooth headset.
For a normal person, this doesn’t make any sense. A normal person was probably already using his or her Bluetooth before the law was in place because it’s easier and safer. But I got my first cell phone right when I was learning to drive. So I can literally count on one hand the number of times that I’ve driven a car without having a cell phone with me. (And every single one of those times was a panic-driven mad dash home to get my phone when I’ve realized that I forgot to bring it. I’d honestly rather show up naked somewhere than show up without my phone. It’s like Linus with his blanket. I just can’t be without it.)
With that said, I don’t talk on my phone all that often, either in the car or otherwise. And the few people who I actually do call on a regular basis are on speed-dial, so when I DO use my phone in the car, I do it safely.
I will admit that I’ve been known to text from the car. I know, I know, I’m a monster. But everyone who texts has done this before. If you’re going to come after me with pitchforks and torches, you’d better go after everyone else too. I HAVE, however, limited myself to doing it at lights or in non-moving traffic because my school had an assembly on texting while driving that was so emotionally scarring that it’s probably going to wind up costing me a sum that could bankrupt Bill Gates in therapy bills down the line.
I made it through the first two days of the new hands-free law with no problem. Last Thursday night, in preparation for the law’s first day, I found my Bluetooth headset (which during the blizzards last winter, I decorated with pink rhinestones—I glued rhinestones on almost everything I owned during the blizzards. Rosie should be grateful she has fur, because if she didn’t, I probably would have bedazzled her too), charged it, and put it in my car.
As soon as I got in the car on Friday and Saturday, I put it on and promptly forgot about it because it’s pretty comfortable.
Which meant that I forgot to take it off and LEAVE it in the car for future use.
So by Sunday, when my dad called me as I was running some errands, I had no clue where it was. And in the ten minutes between when he first called me and when I finally located the headset (which was somehow under the floormat on the passenger side of the car. I still no clue how THAT happened), I almost died approximately 17,986 times. Had I just answered my phone (or figured out how to answer it on speakerphone on the Palm Pixi—if anyone can help me out there, please let me know!), thousands of innocent lives could have been saved from the potential danger that I put them in while trying to find my headset.
And unfortunately, I went through the same process several times before figuring out that it’s a SECONDARY offense to be talking without a hands-free device. So as long as I’m not speeding or running a light or drinking a beer while driving, cops can’t pull me over FOR talking on my phone.
Now they tell me.
But I AM trying to follow the rules. I found a clip to hold my headset in place in the center console when I’m not using it so that I’ll always know where it is, and I’m making a concerted effort to leave it in the car when I am done driving.
However, when they stop letting me hold my ipod to change the playlist that I’m listening to, I’m moving to a state with less stringent driving laws.
Which won’t be Virginia; I love my radar detector too much.
Which probably leaves one of my favorite states, New Jersey*. Get ready for a new neighbor, Bruce! I think you should invite me over to welcome me to the neighborhood. Because I love you.
*(Yes, I know New Jersey has hands-free cell phone laws too. But it’s just a better state anyway.)
But until I move, if you call me and I don’t answer, it doesn’t mean that I’m ignoring you; it’s far more likely that I died in a fiery crash while trying to find my Bluetooth headset to answer your call.