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Crash helmets take cell calls

Italian company makes motorcycle helmets that allow hands-free cell calling.

HANNOVER, Germany--Bikers are now able to talk and ride by using a mobile-phone headset for crash helmets, demonstrated by Italian hi-tech accessory company Cellular Line at the CeBit trade show this week.

The headsets, which connect to a mobile phone by a wire, enable riders to answer the phone while wearing their helmets. It includes an answer/call button and fits onto the exterior of the helmet, usually on the left-hand side. The company says this enables riders to answer calls and hang up in "complete safety."

In the United Kingdom, it is an offense to use a cell phone when driving a car. This legislation, which came into effect in 2003, did not outlaw the pressing of buttons on a mobile phone by a motorcyclist as long as they weren't actually holding the phone.

However, the Department of Transport has warned that "hands-free phones are also distracting, and you still risk prosecution for failing to have proper control of a vehicle." Companies have been warned that they could face prosecution if they don't supply hands-free kits to staff that need them.

The headsets, which can be used with most helmets (full-face, open-face and flip-up), have audio capabilities at speeds up to 62 miles per hour.

Dan Ilett of ZDNet UK reported from Hannover, Germany.