Hands-Free Deadline

May 12, 2008 9:17:30 PM PDT
The deadline for drivers to hang up their hand-held phones and go hands-free is coming up quickly on July first.Fresno police officers like Rich O'Dell are always on the lookout for speeders.

But come July 1st, if they see they can pull you over too because using a handheld phone while driving will be against the law.

Sgt. Eric Eide, Fresno Police Department: "It's definitely a step in the right direction, I believe it will help. There's a lot of people that don't realize the dangerousness of their act when lose their concentration from driving."

65 percent of California drivers admitted they regularly talk on their cell phones while steering in a recent survey by headset manufacturer Plantronics.

That's 15 million distracted drivers on the roads.

Sgt. Eric Eide: "People who drive too fast, people who drive too slow. Unsafe lane changes, cutting people off, running red lights, running stop signs, they're on the phone."

The new law requires drivers to use a hands-free device like a headset when talking on their phone in the car. And any drivers under 18 can *not* use a phone at all.

The base fine for the first offense is 20-dollars, a second offense is 50-dollars, But additional penalties bring it to a total cost of 76-dollars the first time, and 190-dollars the second time.

The new law does have a loophole. It technically doesn't say you can't dial or even text while driving. Obviously both are unsafe and you shouldn't do it. But at any time, if an officer thinks you're driving distracted, he can pull you over and give you a ticket.

Leo Rabago, Best Buy Mobile: "Definitely go with the bigger one it's gonna give you a better connection and probably have a longer battery life also."

Best Buy's mobile expert Leo Rabago is seeing a lot more customers coming in, looking for headsets, some reluctantly.

Leo Rabago, Best Buy Mobile: "Everybody didn't want to use them for safety but now that it's the law, everybody wants or needs them."

He says drivers have three basic options: the cheapest a wired headset like this that plugs into your phone. These will cost you about 15 to 20 dollars.

Or a wireless or "bluetooth" headset, There are brands like Motorola, Jawbone, and Jabra. Those range from 40 to 120 dollars.

Third for those who don't want anything in their ear, a Bluetooth speakerphone for their car, these cost 80 dollars and up.

Rabago: "It's just basically personal preference any headset will work just as long as you have a headset and are using it correctly."

Top-rated the 35-dollar Jabra BT-500 headset. Tests show this Bluetooth headset is very comfortable, with an impressive eight-and-one-half hours of talk time.

While drivers have a wide variety of headsets to choose from using one won't be a choice.


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