June 6 2011 by Chris McGinnis
But this week an international panel of experts from the World Health Organization said that cell phone use could be linked to certain types of brain cancer. The announcement re-ignited a long brewing debate about the safety of the devices.
While the debate over the link between cell phones and cancer rages, there's no doubting the link between cell phone use and automobile accidents and poor driving habits. (How many times have you had a near miss or have been stuck behind a driver yammering away on the phone?)
But there's also an undisputed positive link between cell phone use and business travel productivity. Despite the warnings and dangers, we aren't going to be tossing our phones out the window any time soon.
In any case, now might be a good time to re-assess cell phone habits. Some tips:
- Get an earpiece/headset and use it. Getting the cell phone away from your head and out of your hand can reduce the risk of cancer and/or car accidents. Most cell phones come with a wired earpiece or headset; however, many business travelers find these unwieldy and rarely use them. If that's the case, consider a wireless Bluetooth headset that you can just pop in your ear when you are in your car and not have to worry about the wire.
- Consider hands free devices. Most cell phones come with speakerphones that make hands-free use relatively easy. However, the sound quality of a speakerphone conversation is sorely lacking. Last week I attended "The Connected Traveler," a travel technology trade show in San Francisco where I learned about a device that might help: The Go Smart Clip, an adjustable device that lets you attach your phone to your car's steering wheel--which improves speakerphone voice quality and viewing of GPS maps.
- Invest in a new smart phone that takes voice commands. The Apple iPhone and Android phones are using increasingly sophisticated voice recognition technology that allow hands free use. Some smart phones now allow you to set your phone into "driving mode" which activates voice commands, displays larger, clearer buttons and mutes background noise when using speakerphone.
- If possible, save emotionally charged calls for a time when you are not driving. A recent Carnegie Mellon University study showed that just listening to a cell phone causes drivers to commit many of the same types of driving errors that occur while under the influence of alcohol. Add emotion to that mix and it's even more dangerous.