If you are heading to the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, be sure to bring a hands-free headset.
Starting today, British Columbia police will be on the lookout for anyone using their phone without a headset of hands-free car kit. Their new hands-free law went into effect on January 1st, and the grace period for offenders ends today, just in time for thousands of visitors to visit their area.
Penalties are pricey – $167 CAD (about $160 USD). In addition to phone calls, British Columbia also bans text messaging, sending email or anything else that involves looking at the screen of your device.
Bottom line is put your phone down and pay attention to the road (good advice anywhere in the world).
Similar laws are already in place in the United States and a good overview of current states with hands-free laws can be found here.
Mobile headset maker Plantronics has put together some tips on safe driving with your phone, and later this week they’ll join Gadling in giving away some of the hottest Bluetooth headsets on the market.
Safety Tips for Hands-free Devices
Plantronics offers the following tips for keeping both hands on the wheel and both eyes on the road when using your cell phone and hands-free device while driving:
- Trial Run: Practice using your phone and headset together before you drive. Familiarize yourself with the headset controls. Adjust the fit and the microphone on your headset, check the headset settings on your cell phone and stow the phone so it’s out of your way but still accessible.
- Be Prepared: Program all your frequently called numbers into your phone. This includes your boss, your kids’ babysitter and your favorite neighborhood pizza place. And don’t forget about speed and voice dialing; most phones have those options, so use them as much as possible.
- Set Up for Success: Just as you check your rearview mirror and secure your seatbelt before driving, be sure to put your headset on and ensure its connected properly to your phone.
- Driving Comes First: Remember: your first priority is driving. You should only place and receive calls when it’s absolutely necessary.