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Plantronics Survey Reveals 60 Percent of Polled Washington Drivers Don’t Know When State’s Hands-free Legislation Goes Into Effect

New Law Will Impact 4.6 Million Licensed Drivers in Washington

Wednesday, April 9, 2008 5:08 am PDT

Dateline:

Santa Cruz, Calif.
"It’s important for Washington 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 Washington’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 worldwide leader in communication headsets, 60 percent of Washington drivers don’t know when the new law goes into effect and 78 percent don’t have a strong familiarity with what it encompasses.

On July 1, 2008, Washington will introduce its new hands-free legislation affecting 4.6 million drivers.1 The Plantronics survey, which polled 400 licensed drivers in Washington, also found that 40 percent of respondents weren’t familiar with the consequences for not complying with the law. Other findings include:

  • Sixty percent of Washington drivers admitted to regularly talking on their cell phones while driving; their primary reasons were:
    • To keep in touch with family members (63 percent)
    • To take care of work-related issues (19 percent)
    • To catch up with friends (8 percent)
  • Sixty percent of Washington drivers believe that headsets help eliminate physical distractions when performing driving tasks
  • Seventy-five percent of Washington drivers would recommend that their friends and loved ones use a headset

Details of Washington’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.

Not abiding by the hands-free law is a secondary offense. Drivers will be stopped if they are found to be driving unsafely or if they are in violation of other laws. There will be no grace period and no warning tickets issued. Fines will be $124 for the first and subsequent violations.

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 Washington 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 Washington 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 www.plantronics.com/driversafety 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 www.plantronics.com or call (800) 544-4660.

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

1 Washington State Department of Transportation, 2005.

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