put the office in
the driver's seat.
JILL DAVIDSON SKLAR
magine driving down
It's a beautiful, clear day and
suddenly you get the impulse
to call a friend to meet for
lunch. So you switch on your
video teleconferencer, smile
into the camera mounted on
your visor, give your
friend a ring and ...
Video teleconferencer? In a
According to Ron Goldberg,
spokesman for the Electronic In-
dustries Association, that scene
may not be too far down the road.
As more people desire to become
accessible at all times, the equip-
ment to do it with — portable and
anchored in cars — will increase
in popularity and sophistication.
Already, 20 percent of Ameri-
can households own cellular
phones, half the amount of those
who own video-game software.
Proprietors of cellular phone
numbers are up from the mere 1
percent of those who owned them
The increase is due in part to
the fact that technology has im-
proved and become cheaper at
the same time that the operating
range of cellular phones has ex-
panded, said David Cole, direc-
tor of the Office of Automotive
Transportation at the Universi-
ty of Michigan.
Also, auto manufacturers are
responding to the trend, making
the use of the technology more
convenient. This year, for exam-
ple, the Chevrolet truck line fea-
tures as standard equipment
multiple ports to plug in elec-
tronics like lap-top computers
and fax machines.
This is a far cry from when car
phones were initially mass- mar-
Barbara Swaab, owner of Se-
lect Communications on Orchard
PHOTO BY BILL GEMMELL
Lake Road, remembers
that the first portable tele-
phone she sold weighed 22
pounds and retailed at
$2,500. The large trans-
ceiver portion of the phone
was bolted into the trunk of
the car and it had the ca-
pability to receive and send
calls only as far as Pontiac
"I sold quite a few of
those," she said, adding
that she keeps a few on
hand for repairs. "And
those people still talk to
Today, Ms. Swaab sells
3.9-ounce telephones that
double as fax machines,
and Simon, an 18-ounce cel-
lular phone \fax \ e-
mail\ cellular pager
address book \ appointment
scheduler\ calculator \ pa-
perless note pad and clock.
The equipment trend to
outfit the car with every
imaginable piece of office
equipment is more preva-
lent in California, where
heavy traffic ties up drivers
for hours, time that could
be spent conducting busi-
But that isn't to say that Carrie Luke of Select Communications compares portable phones of the past and present.
the movement has not
reached the metropolitan Detroit
Like Sgt. Richard Rule, a
Car batteries also face a strain
area. Mark Asmar, an installer Michigan State Police trooper. to feed all of the electronic equip-
at Radios, Knobs, Speakers and Since a greater amount of tech- ment. Not to mention the hav-
Things in Keego Harbor, has seen nology has crept into cars, he has oc this portable technology has
lap-top computers and fax ma- seen more of the users in acci- wreaked on people's lives. Before
chines in the cars of traveling dents.
the advent of cellular phones,
"They're cruising along at 65 people used to take drives to get
"It's easier for them to do work to 75 miles per hour, covering away from the office; now the of-
on the road than to go back to the hundreds of yards of road in a fice technology is in the car, in
office," he said.
short amount of time and con- their pockets, etc.
While the technology is a centrating not on the road but on
"That is how pathetic this of-
what the person at the other fice thing has become," Mr. Gold-
saver for some, it is a
end of the line is saying," he berg said. "There are fewer and
big headache for oth-
said. "It's a dangerous com- fewer demarcations between
work and home life." O
Safety Tips For Phoning and Driving
JILL DAVIDSON SKLAR STAFF WRITER
gt. Richard Rule, a Michigan State sible to the general public, we began to
• Use a hands-free phone in order
Police trooper, has seen almost see more accidents involving people talk-
both hands on the wheel.
every scenario when it comes to car ing on them," Sgt. Rule said, noting that
• Use memory dialing features
most of the accidents are not fatal and in-
or voice-activated dialing.
So it no longer shocks him when some- volve a rear-end collision.
• Don't attempt to write while dri-
one who is talking on a cellular phone
Driving and telephones can be a dan- driving compared to 3,032 which were al-
If you need to take notes, pull off
plows into another car and then calls po- gerous mix, but they don't have to be.
park in a safe place, not on
lice to report it. Nor is he surprised when
According to the Washington, D.C.,-
To be on the safe side, CTIA offers some the side of a freeway.
a single road mishap generates more than based Cellular Telecommunications In-
suggestions for safe driving while using a
• Never let a call interfere with dri-
100 emergency calls, all made from car dustry Association (CTIA), 28 deaths on cellular
Many cellular telephone com-
America's roads in 1993 could be attrib-
• Install your ear phone where it panies offer voice mail for a nominal
'When car phones became more acces- uted directly to cellular telephone use and can be reached easily.