Thursday, January 22, 2009

Proposed Virginia Hands-Free law may apply to ham radio operators

Mike KF4UEL reports that the proposed hands-free law in Virginia would prohibit the use of a ham radio in a car unless the radio is equipped with a hands-free accessory.  Unlike many other such laws, this law contains no provision excluding ham radios, and is written broadly enough that it would cover them, as well as covering most other land mobile services such as CB and business land mobile.  The California law, for example, is specific to "wireless telephones", and the Chicago ordinance is restricted to devices that are connected to the public telephone network.

I've seen some discussion that suggests that it's the full-duplex nature of the telephone call that makes it so dangerous, and that the half-duplex operating mode of ham radios, CB, and business land mobile is not nearly as distracting.  Commercial drivers (not to mention law enforcement and emergency response personnel) have been using land mobile radio for a long time now without anybody expressing serious concerns. 

Hopefully we'll be able to convince Virginia that mobile hams aren't a threat to public safety.