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15 Adar 5766 - March 15, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Haifa Court Allows Drivers to Hold Cell Phone While Driving

by Yated Ne'eman Staff

A traffic court in Haifa recently acquitted drivers charged with speaking by cell phone without a hands-free set, ruling that drivers may use standard cell phones while driving as long as both hands stay on the steering wheel.

The judge said that according to the wording of the law, drivers must hold onto the steering wheel or the gearshift to insure the proper operation of the vehicle or to maintain traffic regulations. The violation is taking both hands off the wheel.

The legislator added a regulation saying phone use does not justify taking a hand off the wheel and he who wants to use a phone while the vehicle is in motion must use a hands-free set.

The judge noted that the penalty for removing the hands from the wheel to hold a phone is five times higher than the penalty for taking one's hands off the wheel for any other purpose.

The judge said since the indictments did not state the drivers had both hands off the wheel there was no proof of a violation and noted today cell phones are available that do not require a hands-free unit. "The driver can place it on the passenger seat or rest it on the control panel and speak inside the car and his voice will be picked up by the internal microphone installed in the phone. The voice of the person on the other end of the line is heard via a built-in speaker." The judge also said today there are phones that can dial by voice commands and can be programmed to answer automatically.

The judge's conversance with modern cellular technology made the driver's acquittal possible.

According to a survey conducted in Britain, half of all vehicle owners — both men and women — speak with the car itself while driving. They spill out their hearts to the car, sharing their problems, confident the listener won't divulge their secrets. Some talk to their car only occasionally, throwing out a word of encouragement or anger when it does not run properly. More than one-third of those asked believe their car has feelings.


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