France bans headphones, headsets and hands-free kits - with a €135 fine
Since June 2015, the use of all forms of headsets for drivers is forbidden while driving the car in France.
The ban on earphones, Bluetooth or other kind of headsets is a response to the growing number of accidents caused by distracted, attention lacking drivers and it also applies to motorcycles.
The fine for using any type of headsets while driving is EUR 135 (plus 3 penalty points on the French driving license). According to the new regulations not only receiving or making phone calls via a hands-free device, but also listening to the music and/or podcasts.
Exceptions to the hands-free kit ban in France
The ban does not apply to telephone conversations or music/audio files played via the car’s on-board hands-free system (using the integrated speakers instead of a headset).
In case of the motorcycles, the headsets built into the helmets are also still allowed.
Other exceptions to the ban are hearing aids for the hearing impaired drivers (backed up by a medical certificate) and a few special categories of drivers, amongst them firefighters, policemen ambulances and other emergency personnel.
Stricter rules on mobile phone use while driving in France
The new regulations in France indicate that the French authorities will also take tougher action against illegal mobile phone use while driving.
It is not clear though, why the hands-free kits and headsets were targeted and the built-in / car’s dashboard systems are still allowed for phone conversations and playing music. Perhaps, and assuming that conversation in the car is always distractive to the driver, disallowing the use of the dashboard hands-free systems might lead, as a next step, to forbidding any kind of conversation between the driver and the passenger in the car.
The headset ban for drivers in France was proceeded by several other tougher policies for drivers in the recent past. In 2012, for example, carrying a breathalyser in the car became mandatory in France. This rule, however, was modified in 2013 and not carrying an alcohol testing unit in France is no longer subject to fines.
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