New mobile phone law in the UK
From 1st December 2003 a new law is coming out in the UK that will make it a specific offence to hold and use a mobile phone whilst driving. This is in addition to the current laws governing safe driving. (Oct 03)

Probably many V8 enthusiasts will welcome this move as we all see so many cases of people driving cars holding phones to their ears 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?

Keep your hands 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. Vodafone, like most of the mobile phone equipment and service providers, are offering two types of hands free kit - either "install yourself" kits or "professionally installed" systems. In Vodafone's latest leaflet they suggest three kits.

Compact car kit at £19.99 (RRP) 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 (RRP). 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 (RRP) 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.

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. First the you have to dial the call and then you have to listen and in most cases conduct a conversation.

Vodafone's brochure brings this new motoring law to our attention!
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 mobiles 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! So ultimately 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.

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!

Victor Smith (Oct 03)
Update: December 2007
Since this V8NOTE was prepared in October 2003 many more drivers have recognised the dangers of holding a mobile phone whilst driving and most either do not have their phone to hand in the car or have gone for the hands-free option. But sadly you can still see some people driving by in their cars with mobile phones held to their ear! It seems that for a minority the reality of the dangers and the requirements of the law have simply not registered on their minds! But the laws banning the use of handheld mobiles in cars have been tightened and the penalties have increased. The choice of hands-free kits has improved too with a Jabra earpiece unit now our suggested best value for money buy. It costs less than £30, is very convenient to use and is transferable between cars.
Links to other webpages
Mobile1 New mobile phone law
Mobile2 Survey of hands free kit
Mobile3 Clip-N-Go option
Mobile4 V8 mobile phone option
Mobile5 Bluetooth mobile phone option
Mobile6 Improved Plantronics headset
Mobile7 M2300 "best buy"
Mobile8 New mobile phone laws
Mobile9 Chat2U-ICI hands-free kit
Jabra BT500v "best buy"