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Drivers With Cell Phones Tend To Ignore Hands-Free Laws

A study of 902 cell phone user-drivers in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York by Harris Interactive found that just 14% use hands-free gear while driving.

A survey of drivers with mobile phones in states with hands-free driving laws has found the respondents generally say they favor the laws. But in practice those drivers tend not to follow the laws and hold handsets to their ears while driving.

In a study of 902 cell phone user-drivers in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York, states that outlaw the use of cell phones while driving, Harris Interactive found that 72% of them have a hands-free product, but 38% of the time they use their hand-held phones. Just 14% use hands-free gear while driving.

Yet, 77% of the drivers say they support the hands-free driving laws.

The survey was commissioned by Parrot, a maker of hands-free car kits, which markets a line of Bluetooth-based car kits. "The reality is that the majority of tri-state drivers are still using their hand-held cell phones because they don't perceive that the law applies to them," said Parrot president and chief operating officer Ed Valdez in a statement.

"While many New York tri-state area drivers admit to having hands-free solutions, they're not consistently using them," Valdez continued. "According to the study, that's because the majority are using headsets and earbuds that drivers say are uncomfortable and difficult to use."

The survey also uncovered data that gave an additional hint for the reason drivers don't use their hands-free solutions: just 2% of the respondents indicated they received a ticket or a warning for using their handset while driving.

The survey found the two most common violators of the hands-free laws are females and drivers between 18 and 34. Each category used hand-held handsets 41% of the time. New Jersey scofflaws were the worst offenders -- they used hand-held phones 43% of the time.

The movement to ban the use of cell phones while driving was launched in the tri-state area in New York in November 2001, followed by New Jersey in July 2004 and Connecticut in October 2005.

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