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Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Monday 1/12/2003The government campaign to promote Bluetooth -- cunningly disguised as a law against handheld mobiles in cars -- is well underway, with eight drivers in Scotland feeling the long arm of the law stretch out from under the stark jacket of justice and wrap its dread hand of apprehension  around their nogoodnik Nokias of naughiness.

Monday 1/12/2003
The government campaign to promote Bluetooth -- cunningly disguised as a law against handheld mobiles in cars -- is well underway, with eight drivers in Scotland feeling the long arm of the law stretch out from under the stark jacket of justice and wrap its dread hand of apprehension  around their nogoodnik Nokias of naughiness.

South of the border, we've got another two months to contemplate our Caledonian cousins getting theirs -- if you're going to introduce a difficult law, why not test it out on a spare country first? -- before it's time to reach for the hands-free.

The intention of the law is laudable, and who can deny that distractions while driving can be deadly? But Bluetooth might not be the only technological help available for motorists with wandering minds. There are plenty of dangers from the kids in the back seat, the radio and CD player, other drivers, even insects wandering into the car: clearly, this subtle yet important way of supporting industry can be extended.

The bugs and the kids are easy to deal with: a robotic hand hanging down from the centre of the roof can easy be programmed to squash the first and silence the second with a mixture of threats and promises, a clenched fist here, a dip into the sweetie tray there. Radio is harder to control -- one good joke can render a driver incapable of precision control for ten to twenty seconds, so for safety's sake a government edict forcing everyone on the road to listen to Chris Moyles must be immediately enacted. It's either that or have an official Humour Censorship Board, who listens to the output of all stations on a ten-second delay and sends out a mute signal by GPRS whenever something remotely funny happens.

As for that perennial problem, the sticking CD or jammed tape, if the Gov can force us to upgrade to wireless headsets then it can damn well do the same for MP3 players. Compulsory iPods, that's what we want -- should only cost around ten billion quid with quantity discount, or roughly the amount they'll probably end up wasting on the ID card scheme before they junk it. So they might as well just print the bloody thing on the back of the iPod, and then everyone's happy.

Technology is our friend.