ST. GEORGE — It’s one of the greatest inventions of our time, but as the cellphone has evolved into the smartphone, not to mention tablets of all sizes, our mobile devices are often our greatest distractions in everyday living – distractions that create disturbances to others and go beyond the self-evident consequences of distracted driving.
July is “National Cellphone Courtesy Month,” an event founded by author and etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore in 2002 with the intent of making cellphone users more respectful of their surroundings.
But why wait for July? Nice matters and good etiquette can start today. Cellphone etiquette enhances and uncomplicates our lives and that of those around us. It protects and honors our relationships. Adding a little attention to how and when we use our devices can even improve our relationships.
Whitmore offers eight points or tips to help us evaluate and be attentive to cellphone etiquette:
- Focus on driving | Always practice wireless responsibility while driving
- Excuse yourself | If you are expecting a call that can’t be postponed, alert your companions ahead of time and excuse yourself when the call comes in; the people you are with should take precedence over calls you want to make or receive
- Follow the rules | Some places, such as hospitals or airplanes, restrict or prohibit the use of mobile phones, so adhere to posted signs and instructions; some jurisdictions may also restrict mobile phone use in public places
- Avoid cell yell | Remember to use your regular conversational tone when speaking on your cellphone; people tend to speak more loudly than normal and often don’t recognize how distracting they can be to others
- Learn to vibe | Always use your wireless phone’s silent or vibration settings in public places, such as business meetings, religious services, schools, restaurants, theaters or sporting events, so that you do not disrupt your surroundings
- Keep your cool | Don’t display anger during a public call; conversations that are likely to be emotional should be held where they will not embarrass or intrude on others
- Keep it private | Be aware of your surroundings and avoid discussing private or confidential information in public; you never know who may be in hearing range
- Be all there | When you’re in a meeting, performance, courtroom or other busy area, let calls go to voice mail to avoid a disruption; in some instances, turning your phone off may be the best solution
- Don’t make or answer calls while in heavy traffic or in hazardous driving conditions
- Place calls when your vehicle is not moving
- Use a hands-free device to help focus attention on safety
- Always make safety your most important call
Utah distracted driving laws
In Utah, it is prohibited to use a handheld mobile device to write, send or read a text message or email, dial a phone number, access the Internet or view or record video while driving, according to Senate Bill 253, the Distracted Driver Amendments law that passed the Utah Senate on March 10, 2014.The bill, sponsored by Sen. Stephen H. Urquhart, Washington County, and Rep. Don L. Ipson, St. George, passed the Utah Senate in a 17-8 vote with 4 not voting. Three days later, it passed the Utah House 41-28 with 6 not voting.
In January, Rep. Jacob L. Anderegg, Lehi, proposed House Bill 63 and asked the House to revisit the law that he believes, he said, is too strict and unenforceable. The bill nearly made it through the Legislature but died before midnight on the end of the 2015 session of the Utah Legislature.
- Jacqueline Whitmore personal website, etiquette website
- Senate Bill 253, Distracted Driver Amendments
- House Bill 63, Distracted Driver Amendments
- Relationship Connection: My boyfriend hides behind his cell phone
- Lawmakers revisit distracted driving laws, consider changes
- Relationship Connection: How do I teach my kids to communicate in a technologically saturated world?
- Distracted driving leads to 3-car collision
- Police say woman distracted ran red light; Dixie Drive collision
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