Hands-free units are flying off the shelves

Cell phone users who want to avoid a chat with the police are snapping up hands-free devices in electronics stores across the Bay Area.

Best Buy mobile assistant Leo Rabago travels often between stores in San Mateo County, San Francisco and the East Bay. He estimates sales of the units have quadrupled in the past month as customers rush to comply with the hands-free and hands-off cell phone laws.

To keep using a cell phone while driving, adults have varied options, including a wired headset that runs from phone to ear, which usually costs from $15 to $30 and works with older phones; a hands-free Bluetooth unit that fits over the ear for $20 to $130; or a unit that fits on a vehicle’s dash or visor, from $80 to $200.

Then there’s the cheapest option — simply using the speakerphone option. While the sound quality isn’t the best, it’s become the de facto solution for many drivers who aren’t big chatters.

“Most days, I don’t use my cell phone in the car, but it definitely happens,” said Leah Goldberg, a San Francisco Internet product manager. “Eventually, I think I’ll end up getting some sort of headset, but until then I’ll just use the speakerphone.”

John Robbins, who manages a RadioShack in the Castro, said customers’ lifestyles dictate their choices in hands-free options. Businesspeople in particular are choosing high-end units that cancel out sound and allow them to switch back in forth between their PDAs and cell phones, he said.

tbarak@sfexaminer.com

Similar laws have saved lives in other states

A May study by researcher Jed Kelko determined that outlawing talking on the phone while driving will save 300 lives each year.

Places that have implemented the law: New York, New Jersey, District of Columbia, Connecticut

Change in traffic fatalities one to six months after law took effect

-17% overall fatalities

-52% fatalities occurring during bad weather

-38 % fatalities occurring on wet roads

-17% fatalities occurring during rush hour

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

CalTrans settles lawsuit over homeless sweeps on state property

Settlement requires agency to give warning before taking property and assist with retrieval

Plan to relocate Bayview charter school meets with resistance

School district wants to move KIPP elementary to vacant Treasure Island school site

Black like Bey

SFMOMA showcases photographer Dawoud Bey’s beautiful, sociopolitical images

Musician shot by off-duty FBI agent on Haight Street speaks out

Man thought official was a ‘fake cop’

Newsom: California’s homelessness crisis ‘a disgrace’

Governor uses State of the State speech to call for new revenue to tackle problem

Most Read