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Plantronics Survey Reveals 44 Percent of Polled California Drivers Don’t Know When State’s Hands-free Legislation Goes Into Effect

New Law Will Impact More Than 23 Million Licensed Drivers in California

Wednesday, April 9, 2008 5:08 am PDT


Santa Cruz, Calif.
"It’s important for California drivers to not only familiarize themselves with the hands-free law, but also the options available to them to ensure compliance before the law goes into effect"

Despite the imminent nature of California’s new legislation requiring all drivers to use hands-free devices while talking on cell phones, many are unfamiliar with the details of the law, including when it goes into effect and the consequences for non-compliance. According to a new survey by TNS and Plantronics, Inc. (NYSE: PLT), the largest headset manufacturer in California, 44 percent of California drivers don’t know when the new law goes into effect and 72 percent don’t have a strong familiarity with what it encompasses.

California’s new hands-free legislation, which goes into effect July 1, 2008, will impact more than 23 million licensed drivers.1 The Plantronics survey, which polled 400 California licensed drivers, also found that 47 percent of respondents aren’t familiar with the consequences for not complying with the law. Other findings include:

  • Sixty-five percent of California drivers admitted to regularly talking on their cell phones while driving; their primary reasons were:
    • To keep in touch with family members (57 percent)
    • To take care of work-related issues (22 percent)
    • To catch up with friends (12 percent)
  • Sixty-two percent of California drivers believe that headsets help eliminate physical distractions when performing driving tasks
  • Eighty-four percent of California drivers would recommend that their friends and loved ones use a headset

Details of California’s Hands-free Legislation

Under the new law, drivers cannot hold cell phones to their head while on the road. Hands-free devices such as headsets and speakerphones are mandatory when using a cell phone while driving. Drivers under the age of 18 cannot use cell phones while driving at all, even if used in conjunction with a hands-free device.

Not abiding by the hands-free law is a primary offense. Drivers will be stopped and fined – there will be no grace period and no warning tickets issued. Fines will be $20 for the first offense (up to $70 after penalties are added); subsequent violations will be $50 (up to $175 after penalties are added).

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 voice dialing; most phones have that option, so use it 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 it’s 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.

“It’s important for California drivers to not only familiarize themselves with the hands-free law, but also the options available to them to ensure compliance before the law goes into effect,” said Clay Hausmann, vice president of Corporate Marketing, Plantronics. “We recognize that California drivers have many different needs, so we offer a wide variety of headsets that fit individual preferences and style. Regardless of the model, all Plantronics headsets deliver the audio performance, ease-of-use and comfort that customers have come to expect for the past 47 years.”

Visit to learn more about the law, find the hands-free solution that’s best for you, and read up on more driving safety tips.

Plantronics recognizes that there are occasions when driving circumstances make talking on a mobile phone – handheld or hands-free – unsafe. In these instances, motorists should pull over or hang up to protect the safety of themselves, their passengers and others on the road.

About Plantronics

In 1969, a Plantronics headset carried the historic first words from the moon: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Since then, Plantronics has become the headset of choice for mission-critical applications such as air traffic control, 911 dispatch and the New York Stock Exchange. Today, this history of Sound Innovation® is the basis for every product we build for the office, contact center, personal mobile, entertainment and residential markets. The Plantronics family of brands includes Plantronics, Altec Lansing and Clarity. For more information, go to or call (800) 544-4660.

Altec Lansing, Clarity, Plantronics and Sound Innovation are trademarks or registered trademarks of Plantronics, Inc.

According to the Public Inquiry office at the Department of Motor Vehicles, the total number of licensed drivers in the state of California is 23,237,087 (December 31, 2007).

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