New mobile phone law

From 1st December 2003 a new law came into force in the UK that makes it a specific offence to hold and use a mobile phone whilst driving. This is in addition to the current laws governing safe driving.

Probably many V8 enthusiasts will welcome this move as we all see so many cases of people driving cars holding phones to their ear both in urban areas and on major roads and motorways - just how they can believe they have proper control of their vehicle is not clear. But if you still want to keep in touch when you are out and about in your car, there is a choice of solutions available to suit your needs and budget - what are the options? A few of the kits offered by Vodafone and Halfords are mentioned in the adjoining column plus we have a link below to a summary of a recent survey by the Sunday Times.

Keep your hands and eyes free for driving! That has to be the approach. Hands free kits have a fixed cradle for your mobile phone, a microphone to talk into, and speakers so you can hear the caller clearly. In addition hands free kits charge your phone battery whilst you are driving.

Safety concern remains. Whichever kit you decide to go for - and possibly some V8 enthusiasts will decide not to have their mobile phone switched on in their V8 as they will be enjoying their driving so much - there are still two factors to bear in mind which have safety implications. First the you have to dial the call and then you have to listen and in most cases conduct a conversation.

Finding, entering and dialing a number. Certainly moving your eyes over to the small keyboard of a mobile phone and carefully pressing the keys - or searching for a preset number - will require you to take your eyes off the road. Some will find this more distracting than others. An alternative on some mobile phones is voice recognition but whether the background noise in a car will mask your voice for recognition purposes is an issue members who have experience of using this technology may be able to comment on.

Conducting the conversation can require various levels of concentration and may cause varying degrees of tension for the driver. I am not sure I would want to conduct a business call involving serious issues or elements of negotiation whilst driving at the same time!

Whatever hands free arrangement you go for you have to remember that the control of your car is your responsibility. If you decide you need to make calls in your car, then one of the hands free kit will be your choice. But even with a hands free kit installed, some care will be needed over making the call and deciding whether certain calls might be better made when parked up! What is certainly clear is that hand held calls from a car on the move are very unwise and has been unlawful from 1st December 2003.

Members' comments on available hands free in car kits and their performance, safety and convenience will be very welcome so we can assemble a survey for the benefit of other members. You can send your comments to me or post them on the V8 Bulletin Board.

Now I am sure the price of these kits will fall - already at my local petrol station they have a good looking hands free self install kit on offer at £4.95!

Update: 31.1.05

What is this new law?
It is the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) amendment No 4 2003 which makes it an offence to use a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving. The term "driving" also includes time spent stationary, for example at a traffic light. Whether "driving" includes a person parked on the side of a road using a handheld phone with or without the engine running is not clear! Once the law takes effect, the penalty will be a £30.00 fine on the spot although it will be greater for people who contest the charge and go to court and lose. The Government is looking to double this and make the offence endorsable - it's expected that will be three points - but to do that the proposed change has to go through parliamentary procedures so the larger fine and points tally are unlikely to be on the statute book before the Autumn 2004.

A "handheld device" is defined as something that "is or must be held at some point during the course of making or receiving a call". So on that basis simply have a hands-free earpiece and microphone on a flex connected to a mobile phone resting on the passenger seat is unlikely to meet the test as it will need to be "held" to press the button to receive a call or to press buttons to make a call. In any case common sense would also tell you that the combination of holding the phone and the distraction of looking away from the road ahead to view the buttons on the mobile phone is very unwise! You cannot really claim to be maintaining full care and attention on the road ahead or peripheral road safety matters.

Ten of the best hands-free adaptors
A survey by the Sunday Times (see their Driving Section 9 in the November 9th 2003 issue) produced a list of adaptor kits and their ranking by the Sunday Times. For details of this useful review see our summary of that survey.
Hands-Free Adaptors survey.

Victor Smith (12.11.03)

Links to other webpages

Mobile1 - new mobile phone law
Mobile2 - survey of handsfree kit
Mobile3 - Clip-N-Go option
Mobile4 - V8 mobile phone option
Mobile5 - Bluetooth mobile phone option
Mobile 6 - Improved Plantronics headset
Mobile 7 - M2300 "best buy"

Vodafone's brochure brings this new motoring law to our attention!

What are the options?

New Bluetooth headset option for V8 enthusiasts
Plantronics Mobile Headset with Bluetooth (M2300) fits behind the user's ear and has no wires to connect to the mobile phone. The connection uses a Bluetooth radio link, so you will need a mobile phone that supports Bluetooth, like a Nokia 6210. (30.1.05)

V8 mobile phone option
Since preparing this note back in November 2003 just before the new regulations came into force, we have found two universal kits which used together produce a very effective option for mounting a mobile phone in an MGBGTV8 or RV8.

Pama Clip-N-Go universal handsfree kit
A Pama Clip-N-Go universal handsfree kit is available at £19.99 from Carphone Warehouse. For full details of this kit see Clip-N-Go
. (13.4.04)

Halfords mobile phone holder with a suction pad
A mobile phone holder which fixes to the windscreen with a suction pad is available from Halfords as an own brand kit. The holder is on a flexible stalk so is infinitely adjustable. Using this holder in conjunction with a Clip -N- Go universal handsfree kit, the clamp on the phone is far enough away from the speaker to avoid the "feedback screech" effect. The screen and keys of the mobile phone are also at eye level but not in your field of view from the driving seat. The Suction Pad Mobile Phone Holder is available from Halfords at the modest price of £14.99 including VAT online from Halfords (delivery extra).
(Updated: 2.2.05)
Halford's Suction Pad Mobile Phone Holder

So your total outlay for a portable hands free mobile phone system and holder is £34.98.
For full details of this combination see our comprehensive note - V8 mobile phone option.
Like most of the mobile phone equipment and service providers, Vodafone is offering two types of hands free kit - either "install yourself" kits or "professionally installed" systems. In Vodafone's latest leaflet to subscribers they suggest three kits.
Compact car kit at £19.99 which is made for specific phones and is available for most popular models. You can fit the holder to your dashboard or air vents and plug the speaker and microphone into you car cigar lighter.Mr Handsfree Car Kit at £39.99. With this kit, you fix the speaker into the footwell and can position the separate microphone near your mouth. This arrangement is said to offer high quality sound. The kit comes with a separate cable for your phone and if you change your phone at any time in the future, you simply change cables and continue using the same car kit. The Bury Universal at £169.99 which is a small and sophisticated kit, and the price includes professional installation by an engineer. If you change your phone, you only need to change the cradle - the rest of the kit stays in place. You can see more information on these hands free kits at the Vodafone website.
In a survey of hands-free kits in the Sunday Times Driving Section 9 on November 9th, their recommended "Star Buy" was the Halfords Fully Integrated Car Phone System at £99.99.