Going hands free – the devices you need to know about
Using your phone while driving is rightly now frowned upon, with the punishment for being caught strict and usually involving both a fine and points on your licence. If you’ve already got points on your licence, then this could mean a driving ban.
In fact, the penalty for being caught on your phone can be higher than that for creeping over the speed limit – you can get stung for six points and a fine of £200. New drivers need to be particularly aware as it can mean an immediate and outright ban if you passed your test in the last two years.
However, you don’t need to forego your phone entirely, as you are able to make hands-free calls via a Bluetooth connection.
Many more modern used cars for sale will come with Bluetooth, which means that all you need to do is connect your phone once and it should automatically give you hands-free calling every time you get in.
You should be able to answer the phone (or reject a call) using a button on the steering wheel while more modern systems will also let you choose who to call by using your voice. Even quickly prodding a favourite contact is against the law while you are driving, so this is a handy feature to have. As an added bonus, you should also be able to stream music using Bluetooth, assuming your phone is able to do so.
But what if your current car doesn’t already have Bluetooth?
There are, thankfully, devices out there that you can plug into your car to create a hands-free connection to stay in touch while not falling foul of the law. There are two main ways to do this. One is to attach a little dongle to your car, while the other is a retro solution that might evoke memories of travelling salesmen from the early 2000s.
The Bluetooth headset
In the early days of Bluetooth, going hands free wasn’t limited to driving. Remember the caricature of the travelling salesman with a little earpiece that meant they could walk and talk with their phone tucked out of sight?
The laws around driving and talking on your phone mean these days are not a thing of the past, but the good news is that the headsets have come on a long way in the intervening years. Not only do they cost less, they offer a higher quality sound so you could even listen to music through them.
The best affordable option is from an unlikely source – The AA. The simple headset is available for less than a tenner and allows you to connect to your phone easily.
If you want a few more features from your headset then the New Bee Bluetooth Headset V5.0 offers a long battery life, a flexible arm so it can be worn on either ear and it is Siri compatible.
It’s a little more expensive, but still offers lawful hands-free calling for under £20.
If you don’t fancy having something hanging off your ear, then there is an alternative.
If you don’t have a stereo in your car at all, or if it doesn’t work, then the Avantree CK11 Hands-Free Bluetooth device is a simple all-in-one solution, coming as it does with its own in-built speaker.
You can clip it into your car and then connect it to your phone and it acts as a mini stereo. Because of its basic nature – it only has two simple buttons on the front – it still requires you to use your phone to make any calls or change the music. The law requires you to be stationary to do this.
If your car has an aux-in connection – the one that looks like a small headphone jack – then the Anker Soundsync Bluetooth Receiver is an easy option. It allows you stream music and make calls while using your car’s speakers. It comes with a decent battery life, too, at 12 hours, so it should cover even those long trips.