I realise that last month a stated that I would be reviewing sites that would save people money on the run up to Christmas but as one of my readers helpfully pointed out, I had completely neglected to cover the new legislation coming into effect that bans the holding of mobile phones whilst driving. Whilst this article is primarily concerned with computing I do like to think that I cover other areas relating to technology in general and of course mobile phones are one of them.

The new law that came into effect at the beginning of the week basically allows the Police to issue on the spot fines of £30 to anybody caught holding a mobile phone and that could rise to £1000 if convicted. This is obviously a fair amount of money and so it makes sense to look at means of complying with this legislation even if not for a financial point of view then of course for a safety point of view.

The main confusion arises from most drivers not knowing exactly what keeps them within the law and what accessories are still legal. Essentially, any piece of equipment that means that you don’t have to physically hold the mobile is legal; so for example, a little earpiece which you could pick up for a couple of quid would be considered legal, a £20 plug and go car kit or of course a £200 fully installed job would all do the trick. If using an earpiece then the mobile does have to be placed in a secure holder and not just placed in your lap!

I did look for a clarification on the Internet as to what exactly happens when the phone rings if you’re not allowed to physically touch it which of course wouldn’t pose a problem in the case of a fully installed car kit but if you had a little in-ear headset then in the majority of instances you’d actually have to touch the phone to answer it. Another point that I don’t understand is that if you had a headset plugged into your phone and it started to ring then you’d have to take your hand of the wheel to fish around trying to find the headset and putting it into your ear. Of course, the alternative would be to keep the headset in your ear throughout the entire journey, whether you are in a conversation or not but I wouldn’t like to drive around all day with the hearing in one ear completely impaired.

There is of course the flip side that suggests that the main risk with using a mobile phone when driving isn’t the physical act of holding it but rather the fact that you’re drawn in to a conversation which distracts you from driving. At first I found this hard to believe as when I’ve had four other people in my car nattering away then I’m not particularly distracted nor am I when listening to the radio but after having tested a fully installed car kit I’ve concluded that this doesn’t seem to be an accurate comparison; I was far more drawn into the conversation I was having on the phone than I would have ever been if the person was in the car with me. Why this is I have no idea but it does seem that conducting a phone conversation took my focus off of driving than having a conversation with someone sat next to me.

Bottom line is that I’m in business and so often need to use my phone in the car and so I’ll be taking the lesser of two evils by getting myself a fully installed car kit next week to keep me legal and I suggest that any of you who often use your phones whilst driving do the same. I don’t believe that any of the other methods are particularly safe, practical or viable so I’d suggest that you either do it properly or pull over to make your calls. With Christmas coming up then what better time to ask for something that could really come in useful; retailers like Carphone Warehouse have full car kits from £60 that you can install yourself.


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