I spend a lot of time in my car. Not as much as I used to, but I still do a lot of driving. One of the reasons I so often choose to drive my eight hour commute between WI and KY (apart from the obvious fact that flying is a colossal pain in the ass) is that I can use the time in the car profitably. I get to listen to music--a pretty high priority for me--and I usually use my phone to catch up with everybody. (I once used this stretch of time to test the hypothesis that a particularly long-winded friend would talk and talk without end if I didn't cut off the conversation; and, lo and behold, he talked continuously from Louisville to the South side of Chicago--nearly four full hours!--before another call bumped in and I decided, hypothesis proved, to take the out given me.)
Yes, I talk on my phone in the car all the time. But one thing I DON'T do is hold my phone to my face. I have a little wired Jabra earpiece that hangs from my rearview mirror, and the first thing I do when I get in the car is plug this device into my phone. Then, earphone in place, most calls I place are single-button affairs, and answering an incoming call is also simple and non-distracting. The Jabra is comfortable and has clearer audio than a bluetooth model (and it's non-transmitting).
I think it's an open question whether talking on the phone over a wired headset is more distracting than talking with a person in the seat next to you, but it's a hands-down improvement over people holding their phone up to their ear. Physically holding your phone seems distracting in the extreme, and it restricts both vision and head movement. These three things--restricted head movement, restricted vision, and distraction--seem to be a deadly trio. On my trip this week to MN and back I saw people driving like lobotomized fools again and again, and, as if on cue, when you get close to them they are without exception being held hostage by their phone up at their ear. (As a motorcyclist, though I wasn't on the bike this week, this careless driving is especially irksome to me and makes me want to throttle people.)
Every person who drives has seen this and has an opinion on the subject, I know. My point is this: there's no way this state of affairs is going to be allowed to continue indefinitely. Something's gonna give. We need to make a concerted effort to use some kinds of hands-free device in our cars or we will surely lose the privilege of using a phone in the car altogether.
And that will make my commute considerably less pleasant (to say nothing of having to stop along the way to call in my Gino's to-go order).