London, 31 Mar 2003.
For immediate release.

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Press Release

ABD Works with Hands Free Phone Kit Industry to Lobby for Sensible and Workable Mobile Phone Legislation
Recently, the government consulted on proposals to make using a hand held mobile whilst driving specifically illegal.

The ABD believes that current legislation is perfectly adequate to allow the police to deal with those who use a mobile phone dangerously behind the wheel.

We therefore believe that specific legislation against mobile phone use is unnecessary and may be counterproductive.

ABD Spokesman Nigel Humphries comments:

"When JABRA, part of the GN Netcom group, drew our attention to the fact that certain types of hands free set would be included in the bad whereas others would be allowed, we were pleased to co-operate with them in drawing public attention to proposals which, if implemented, would lead to high farce on the public highway."
The following release has been sent jointly by the ABD and JABRA:

Six Million Drivers Face Fines for Using
'Wrong Type of Hands-Free Device'
Association of British Drivers responds to proposed Government ban on in-car mobile phones which includes most popular hands-free kits, including the new wireless Bluetooth technology.

Confusion surrounds proposed legislation to ban mobiles in-cars Proposed blanket ban includes many types of hands-free kit - but not all! UK Government threatens to take harder line than the rest of Europe* Ban on mobile use applies even when car is stationary!

Up to six million drivers face fines of up to £1,000 for using `wrong type of hands-free device' New research shows headset is most popular hands-free device Proposed law ignores risks caused by other in-car distractions 80% of the UK public say hands-free systems should not be banned .

The Government is still considering responses to its consultation over outlawing mobile phone use in vehicles. The Association of British Drivers (ABD), in conjunction with JABRA, part of the GN Netcom group, has examined the proposals carefully and cut through the confusion to expose serious issues that threaten to make the legislation unworkable.

Previously unseen research** shows a proposed new law to ban in-car use of hand-held mobile phones, will penalise many drivers who are already acting responsibly by using a headset or ear-piece. The proposed law threatens to ban many types of hands-free devices and will be impossible to enforce, says the Association of British Drivers.

ABD Spokesman Nigel Humphries said:

"JABRA's research shows the new law will criminalise six million UK motorists who are using the `wrong type of hands-free kit'. This will achieve nothing but to bring the law into disrepute and lead to widespread non compliance."
JABRA has presented the research to the Department for Transport (DfT), pointing out that the proposed ban does not take into account the many practical issues surrounding enforcement.

Motoring organisations and mobile phone companies are also campaigning against the ban, which is likely to be introduced in 2003. The DfT is currently considering responses to its consultation document which proposed to make it an offence to use any hands-free kit, apart from costly installed kits wired into the car's speakers. Although they are significantly more expensive, there is no evidence to show that these kits are safer than earpieces or headsets.

The UK ban will also include wireless Bluetooth headsets, widely predicted to play a key role in hands-free mobile operation.

"Banning the best and most effective hands free technology is ridiculous," continues Humphries. "Convenience is the key to increasing hands free usage, and Bluetooth scores heavily with no wires to plug in and easy transfer between different cars. When Bluetooth becomes widespread nobody will ever need to drive with a phone held to his or her ear again."

Hands-free kits are already widely used by UK motorists according to new research from JABRA, the mobile brand owned by the GN Netcom Group. The research shows that the headset or earpiece is the most popular device, used by 19% of all drivers who make mobile calls from the car, compared to just 6% using a fully-installed in-car kit.

George Tennet, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, JABRA EMEA, said:

"We have told the Government that our main concern is that this law will cause confusion amongst the majority of motorists who are already taking a responsible attitude towards mobile phone use in the car. Our research shows that 51% of drivers, who admit to using their phone in the car, already use some kind of hands-free device. The research commissioned by JABRA showed that 43% of the UK's drivers who own a mobile currently admit to using their mobile in the car. That represents around 16 million licensed drivers in the UK. Of these drivers, 51% use some type of hands-free device."
George Tennet adds:
"Based on our research, we can reasonably estimate that around 6 million drivers currently use a headset or earpiece device, compared to just over 2 million using an installed car-kit. We think the new law should concentrate on the 8 million drivers who don't use any kind of hands-free device and are most likely to put themselves and others at risk."
The Government estimates that `approximately 100,000 fixed penalty notices could be issued each year and about 5,000 prosecutions in courts as a result of the creation of a new offence'. JABRA's figures suggest that this calculation fails to take into account the scale of mobile phone use by the UK's drivers. George Tennet explains:
"With limited resources to enforce a ban on mobile phone use, surely it makes sense to concentrate on hand-held use. Those drivers trying to negotiate a roundabout with one hand on the mobile and the other on the steering wheel, represent a much bigger risk than motorists who ensure they can keep both hands safely on the wheel by using a headset. We believe education for drivers is the way forward, so that drivers are fully aware of the risk."
Motorists have welcomed the ban on hand-held mobile use in the car, but the majority believe that hands-free devices should be exempt from the ban. One survey showed that 80% of the UK public felt that hands-free systems should not be banned (source: PAMA). The AA has also criticised the proposals as being `over the top'.


Notes To Editors:

* While at least 14 countries in Europe have already introduced a ban on hand-held mobile use in the car, only two - Spain & the Republic of Ireland - have banned hands-free kits. The Republic of Ireland is now reviewing its legislation, which has proved difficult to enforce.

** This research was commissioned by JABRA and conducted in Great Britain via a telephone omnibus survey by Taylor Nelson Sofres plc. 561 car drivers who have a mobile phone were interviewed which took place between 1st to the 3rd of November 2002. The sample was weighted to represent the adult population of Great Britain aged 16+.


JABRA is a business division within the mobile communications business of GN Netcom Group, a leading provider of hands-free communications solutions. JABRA was established in 1993 in the US to develop and manufacture hands-free communications solutions for the mobile telecommunications markets. The company is dedicated to providing customers with the freedom to communicate safely while they drive, type, work or play with a range of corded and cordless Bluetooth personal hands-free kits. The JABRA Corporation headquarters are based in Copenhagen, Denmark. JABRA is the best selling headset range in the US.

About GN Netcom

The GN Netcom group consists of three companies: GN Netcom, a leading provider of hands-free communications products to the call centre, office and PC applications markets; JABRA, the foremost provider of innovative hands-free products for the mobile consumer market; and Hello Direct, a leading business-to-business direct marketer of hands-free telephony and equipment interface solutions. Founded in 1987, the GN Netcom group has facilities on four continents and its products are sold in more than 80 countries worldwide. The GN Netcom Group is part of GN Great Nordic, a Danish-based technology group, traded on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange (Reuters: GNTC.CO; Bloomberg: GGNDF).

About The Association of British Drivers (ABD)

ABD was founded in 1992 by a group of drivers from all walks of life and from all parts of the UK. Led by Brian Gregory, Founder and Chairman, the ABD is motivated to counter the rising tide of irrational anti-car propaganda and regulations.

Notes for Editors