Manufacturers claim that sales of Bluetooth hands-free devices have gone through the roof as a result of the Irish Government’s ban on motorists using mobile phones whilst driving.
The ban, which came into effect on Friday, does not extend to motorists using hands-free phones in vehicles.
Any driver found using their mobile phone handset will be liable to a fixed charge of €60 and two penalty points for each offence.
As well as this, any driver that takes the matter to the courts and is convicted will receive four penalty points on their license and could face a maximum fine of €2,000.
It is understood that the only defence that will be tolerated is the use of a hand-held mobile phone to contact the emergency services.
Both Motorola and Plantronics, which manufacture Bluetooth headsets, have been strong in the lead-up to the ban.
Plantronics has claimed a “ten-fold” rise in sales through its locally appointed distributor CMS Peripherals.
Motorola confirmed “a significant increase in sales” but would not disclose a figure.
Paul Dunne, country manager for Plantronics, commented: “The use of a handheld while driving is becoming socially unacceptable in Ireland. The Irish public are taking this new legislation very seriously.”
Dunne said he could literally track an increase in Bluetooth headset sales from the morning that Assistant Garda Commissioner Gerry Rock spoke on the Gerry Ryan show on 2FM informing people of the legislation.
“Our distributor CMS Peripherals has reported a ten-fold increase in sales as a result of people moving to comply with the legislation. We forecast a significant window of opportunity between now and Christmas. The situation in Ireland mirrors what happened in the UK when similar legislation came to bear. We saw strong sales of products in a three- to four-month period.”
Matt Montegu, accessories manager at Motorola Ireland, agreed there has been a rise in Bluetooth headset sales as a result of the legislation.
In the months leading up to the ban Motorola ran a radio advertising campaign with the Roads Safety Authority warning of the dangers of using a mobile phone whilst driving. He said a new campaign will be launched today across the majority of national radio stations to support the legislation.
“We have indeed seen an increase in sales. We had an insight into the legislation change and it was only a matter of time in our view that once the legislation came in consumers would be aware of the technologies.
“The Bluetooth headsets on the market are getting smaller and batteries are getting better. As a result, Motorola’s market share in Europe for portable hands-free devices is now 38pc.”
In tandem with the onset of the legislation, Motorola and the various network operators have been preparing phone and headset bundles. Montegu added that the design and appearance of Bluetooth devices have developed and today they are being marketed by manufacturers as fashion accessories.
Montegu is optimistic about the market for Bluetooth devices: “There has been a marked increase in sales and this is a trend that’s going to continue. There’s a lot of people out there that are going to need this technology, especially when you consider that there are more mobile phones in Ireland than people.”
By John Kennedy