Contact Street Smarts
Exit freeway and park in safe place to use cell phone
While out and about with the California Highway Patrol last week, we came upon a motorist who was stopped in the emergency lane along the right side of Highway 17, just before the Mount Hermon off ramp. He was waiting for a call on his cell phone, despite having a hands free Bluetooth plugged into his ear. Officer Sarah Jackson issued the Lexis driver a stern warning to never do that and sent him on his way. Stopping on the side of the freeway or on- or-off-ramp is both illegal and unsafe, as emergency lanes on freeways are exactly for that -- emergencies. The shoulder provides a haven for motorists who have a flat tire, engine problems or a traffic collision. What's more, sitting on the freeway shoulder or ramp opens the cell phone user up to a collision, as a distracted or impaired driver could lose control of their vehicle and collide with them. The emergency lane can be used to make emergency calls, such as to 911 to report a problem. Drivers who must make or take a cell phone call should exit the freeway and park in a safe place, such as in a shopping center or on a side street where parking is permitted. In July 2008, California began requiring all drivers to put down their cell phones. While motorists age 18 and up may use a hands free device to place and receive calls, younger drivers may not use their cell phones at all.