According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an estimated nine people die every day in collisions involving distracted drivers. While texting and driving are not illegal at the federal level, 20 states (including Maine) have banned hand-held phone use while driving.
On September 19, Maine’s no-texting law went into effect, banning the use of hand-held phones and limiting the use of other devices while driving. You must mount or fix your device before you start your trip, or risk a substantial fine.
Drivers can, however, use their devices in hands-free mode, meaning that they use Bluetooth to make calls and read their text messages. Below is an overview of how you can set up your Bluetooth network in your car.
Before You Begin
To use your phone for hands-free calling, you will need the following:
- A Bluetooth-enabled smartphone and infotainment system or car stereo system
- The PIN number for your infotainment system or car stereo system
- A phone mount
Bluetooth connectivity is available in most infotainment systems as well as OEM and aftermarket Bluetooth car stereos. If you have an older system, a hands-free kit can be used to add the feature.
Depending on how your infotainment or audio feature is configured, your phone will search for your car, or vice-versa. In either case, get both devices ready to search or be found by:
- Navigating to the Bluetooth feature in your infotainment system or car stereo and turning it on.
- Turning on your Bluetooth feature on your Android or iPhone device
Make the Devices Discoverable
If your vehicle is scanning for your phone, set the phone to be discoverable so that the car can find it and pair up. If the vehicle system is set to discoverable, have your phone scan for devices that are available for connection.
Pair the Devices
The method for starting the pairing process will depend on vehicle type.
- If you have a Toyota Camry, click ‘Bluetooth’ on your infotainment touchscreen, then ‘Add New Device.’ Once the phone and the system detect each other, accept the connection.
- If you have a Ford equipped with a SYNC system, you will be prompted to select ‘SYNC’ in your phone’s Bluetooth settings and input a six-digit PIN number that appears on the SYNC screen.
- If you have a GMC Sierra, you can Press the Push to Talk button and say “Bluetooth.” After the beep, say “Pair.” When the system prompts you to do a search on your phone, use the phone to search for your car and enter the 4-digit code on the screen or confirm that the 6-digit code on the device matches what appears on the car system.
- With a BMW, your phone will scan for available connections. When your car’s vehicle ID appears, select it and confirm that the six-digit passkey matches the one on the iDrive console. If it does, press OK and then ‘pair’ on your phone.
- For a Mercedes-Benz, press the phone button on the steering wheel and the infotainment system will display the pairing menu. Select “Connect a New Device” and then “Start Search on System.” Choose your phone from the list of available devices and confirm that the codes on the infotainment screen and on your device match.
Send and Receive Hands-Free Calls
After pairing your Bluetooth with your car, you will be able to send and receive hands-free calls. With some cars, like the Toyota Camry, there are steering wheel buttons that activate calling mode. Other vehicles have a button or always-on voice control that activates the infotainment system’s functionality, which includes placing calls.
What’s the Bottom Line?
Although many Maine drivers will abide by the new law, others will doubtlessly try to sneak in a hands-on call or text and hope that they don’t get caught. Unfortunately, their recklessness can result in an accident that leaves you or a loved one seriously injured. If this happens, reach out to the personal injury team at Fales & Fales, P.A. We fight for the rights of those who are injured in Maine motor vehicle accidents and will use our years of negotiation and litigation experience to achieve the outcome that you need and deserve. For more information, please contact us.