Cellphones and cars can be a dangerous mix, but auto manufacturers have created ways to integrate them for safer travel.
Bluetooth wireless connective technology has been the tool for connecting drivers with the world while keeping their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.
Hillsboro Ford sales manager Terry Hagen said Ford has a Bluetooth system titled Sync 3, which connects with Bluetooth devices, such as Bluetooth-enabled cellphones.
“Once that is paired up, everything is hands free,” Hagen said. “All the controls are on the steering wheel, to answer or even initiate a call, and to keep yourself focused on the road.”
Some Bluetooth systems allow drivers to control phone calls with voice recognition. Some also give drivers voice control over music systems and temperature controls.
“It’s all about keeping your hands on the wheel where they should be,” Hagen said, “but even with the technology, people seem to get distracted, so there’s pros and cons on that right now.”
Safely driving while communicating ultimately comes down to drivers.
“You still can’t remove the human factor to stay attentive while you’re driving,” Hagen said. “It’s easy to get distracted while driving with navigation or audio. You still have to rely on your own judgment, be aware of your surroundings, and pay attention to the road.”
Talking on the phone while driving is not illegal for drivers 17 and older, but texting is, and can result in a fine and court date, Sheriff Robert Craft said.
However, Marion police chief Tyler Mermis said that texting and driving cases have not been high in Marion, with the last one recorded April 5.
“I think we’ve only had a couple incidents in Marion where we caught kids texting and driving but around here it’s not that often,” Mermis said. “I’m sure they do it, it’s just hard to see, especially at night.”
Mermis suggested that those with Bluetooth systems should learn how to operate them before the need arises.
“If they don’t, they could still get into an accident if they aren’t paying attention,” Mermis said.
Craft’s advice for texting and driving was simple.
“Please don’t,” Craft said. “It’s difficult enough to keep your eyes focused where they should be.”