In an attempt to reduce road traffic accidents, the French government has banned drivers from wearing headsets of any kind.
The new decree, which comes into force on 1st July, prohibits any driver (car, motorcycle, or even bicycle) from wearing devices that emit sound. Naturally, this means that phone calls are a no-no, but under the new law listening to music, podcasts, or even an audio book will be considered an offence. Geting caught out by the police will result in a €135 (approx US$150) fine and three penalty points.
Rather inexplicably, the new decree only applies to head-bound kit and not equipment which rests solely on the dashboard. France's Interior Ministry has been keen to stress that the ban is designed to curb distractions in the driver's seat, but given that the attention-dividing factor of Bluetooth headsets is the conversation being had, rather than the kit itself, it seems odd to not ban hands-free in its entirity. It's possible that the French goverment thinks a lack of snazzy Bluetooth headsets will simply put the public off the idea.
In 2013 there were 3,250 fatalaties due to traffic accidents in France, a figure higher than the UK (2,175) and lower than Germany (3,520). However, relative to total population size, France's figure was higher than both. Whether the new move will save lives remains to be seen. Let's hope so.