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France bans earphones for drivers and cyclists

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France bans earphones for drivers and cyclists
Take off your earphones or risk a big hefty fine. Photo: AFP
09:59 CEST+02:00
France has announced that motorists, and even cyclists, won't be allowed to use headphones while driving from the 1st of July.
Motorists heading to France this summer need to be aware, with more rules for driving in France on the way.
 
The latest is a ban on wearing earphones, which was announced on Thursday after it was initially proposed back in January among a raft of measures aimed at cutting down France's death toll on the roads.
 
The interior ministry pointed out that driver's needed to improve their attention while at the wheel, noting that one in ten deaths was linked to mobile phone use.
 
"The aim is to stop drivers from getting isolated from their exterior environments, and from losing their concentration due to the use of headphones," the Interior Ministry noted.
 
Those caught with earphones in their ears risk fines of €135 and losing three license points. This is the same fine for those caught operating a telephone or not wearing their seat belt. 
 
That would mean an end to using hands-free kits and mean the only way to use a phone while driving in France is to have the caller on loud speaker.
 
Motorists appear to be somewhat divided about the new anti-earphone move, with a poll from French daily Le Parisien showing that 42 percent of respondents didn't understand the need for a ban. 
 
Pierre Chasseray, who heads the French drivers' organisation 40 Million d'Automobilistes has blasted France's culture of resorting to "banning everything" but says the measure itself is actually worthwhile.
 
"We can't deny that using headphones while driving disturbs the concentration of the driver. It means they are effectively using the mobile phone, whether its to dial a number or hang up," he told The Local.
 
"Of all the things that are banned, this is one of the most coherent measures," he said.
 
Chasseray says its much safer if drivers use a bluetooth box where the phone can activated with voice commands and costs only €59.
 
Motorists who head to France each summer are advised to learn the rules of the road, which expand every time the government makes an effort to bring down the number of road deaths.
 
Chasseray says authorities could do with learning from the British approach.
 
"In France we ban everything. Drivers are sick of it. But the culture here is that only strict measures will work to bring down the number of accidents, whereas in the UK they focus on changing the behaviour of the driver.
 
"In Britain they have scrapped hundreds of speed cameras whereas in France the number is going up. We don't look into educating and training drivers enough, we just ban things."
 
 
It's not just car and truck drivers facing the ban, which kicks off on July 1st. The government added that motorbike and scooter riders will no longer be able to wedge their phone inside their helmet either. 
 
Even cyclists won't be exempt from the rules, with the government announcing that anyone wearing earphones while cycling can faces a fine too.
 
Other government measures to soon hit the roads include an end to tinted windows altogether, a stricter approach to drink driving for young motorists, and an improved safety at pedestrian crossings.
 

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