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4/8/2013
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Smartphone Maps While Driving Banned In California

Recent court decision in California makes it illegal to check smartphone maps except in cases of hands-free, voice-guided navigation.

In January 2012, Steve R. Spriggs was cited for violating California code 23123. That code reads, "A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone unless that telephone is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking, and is used in that manner while driving."

Spriggs wasn't talking on his telephone, however. Nor was he sending text messages, surfing the Internet or reading email. Instead, he was using it as a GPS device for navigation purposes. According to the officer who cited Spriggs, he was holding the smartphone in his hand while driving and navigating.

The facts in the case are not in dispute. Spriggs was indeed holding his wireless telephone and using it while driving. Spriggs argued that the way the law is written implies only talking/listening are forbidden, and other activities, such as navigating, are not.

The appeals court didn't see it that way. Its new interpretation of the existing law more or less outlaws practically all possible uses of wireless telephones in the state of California while driving a motor vehicle -- including the use of smartphones as navigation devices. But there is some leeway. The existing code, as written, implies that wireless telephones can still be used as navigation devices with hands-free listening configurations.

[ Recent study shows business professionals are texting while driving at alarming rates. See Texting While Driving: Teens Not Top Offenders. ]

Consider this scenario. You're sitting in your employer's parking lot and need to get to a meeting across town. You have a cradle that holds your smartphone. Put it in the cradle, enter the coordinates needed to get to your meeting, and set the device to provide voice-guided (i.e., spoken) turn-by-turn directions. In this case, you're not touching or holding the device, you're only listening to it while navigating. That could be a viable use case that allows for smartphone-based navigation in California.

Even so, the new interpretation of California code by this particular appeals court makes it even more likely to be cited if caught holding a cell phone while driving. The intent behind the law is to prevent drivers from becoming distracted by the devices, which is the real problem.

The National Safety Council notes, "There is no research or evidence that indicates voice-activated technologies eliminate or even reduce the distraction to the drivers' mind."

Distractions in the car can lead to crashes. Crashes can result in property damage, property loss, injury and death -- not to mention liability and lawsuits. If your company operates in California, make sure your employees understand this new interpretation of the law.

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NG11209
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NG11209,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/10/2013 | 12:40:24 PM
re: Smartphone Maps While Driving Banned In California
Insurance companies are interested in curbing distracted driving: A company called Cellcontrol has developed an aftermarket device that pairs with apps via Bluetooth to disable many of the functions of a mobile phone, and is working with a couple insurers (including Esurance) on getting the device in policyholders' hands. But, navigation apps are actually exempted by default, which makes sense: What's the difference between using your phone and your GPS to navigate? Clearly there is another solution waiting to happen. My money is on some sort of built-in stand in cars' dashboards that can fit most GPSes and smartphones without requiring the purchase of extra equipment.
AustinIT
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AustinIT,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/9/2013 | 1:21:25 PM
re: Smartphone Maps While Driving Banned In California
We are all happy that you are an expert "in this voice and video in the cars stuff". However, you are definitely NOT an expert in human behavior. If a driver has to take his eyes off the road for any reason, it opens up the distinct possibility that a mistake will be made and serious consequences might occur. You cannot outlaw stupid, but you can often mitigate those things which are obvious.

Sometimes the actions that happen in California may seem over-reaching, but their intentions are usually in the right place. They have the highest population of any state in the country and are often faced with how to properly deal with it.
Cara Latham
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Cara Latham,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/9/2013 | 12:58:08 PM
re: Smartphone Maps While Driving Banned In California
davn8r, I agree wholeheartedly with you. I think either way, this ruling just serves to create more confusion. I can foresee cases in which summonses are mistakenly issued for people who have standalone GPS devices or other misinterpretations of the law. I think the government needs to follow up with legislation to clarify the regulations.
Tom Mariner
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Tom Mariner,
User Rank: Strategist
4/8/2013 | 10:59:14 PM
re: Smartphone Maps While Driving Banned In California
Folks! Its California! You expected something different?

The Golden State where anything was possible, where the beaches and laboratories were filled with certified crazies that didn't know you "couldn't do that", built a billion of them and made the state rich. That's gone now -- replaced by the most restrictive government this side of Washington. Hopefully the tech businesses in the state will continue to get the message and flee to friendlier climes.

Will the last Californian out of the state please let the liberal government know there's nobody left to pay for their ego trip.

I'm a certified expert in this voice and video in the cars stuff -- helped invent it. Everything these clowns are telling you about this particular "distraction" and killing school buses filled with kids is absolutely nonsense.
Leo Regulus
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Leo Regulus,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/8/2013 | 7:54:12 PM
re: Smartphone Maps While Driving Banned In California
Thank You California. It's good to have a Navigator in an automobile, but NOT the driver. Even most airplanes have a separate position for Navigator.

I wonder if this level of culture and intelligence will ever penetrate Floriduh, which still allows both text and talk and no requirement ofr 'hands-free' - which is also very widely practiced.
chis
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chis,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/8/2013 | 5:49:32 PM
re: Smartphone Maps While Driving Banned In California
To forbid handling a smartphone for navigation purposes is ridiculous when one considers the big floppy paper map it has replaced. The smartphone is less of a distraction than the old way of navigating.
davn8r
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davn8r,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/8/2013 | 3:52:08 PM
re: Smartphone Maps While Driving Banned In California
I understand the logic behind the restriction but we have an inconsistency when a driver is prohibited from touching a smartphone which is being used as a navigation device but may legally interact with (i.e.: touch) a GPS device being used for the same purpose and in the exact same manner.

Perhaps the legislation could be modified to either include touching any such device regardless of classification (smartphone vs. TomTom for instance) or be modified to allow access to 'properly mounted' devices thus reducing the distraction as the driver would no longer need to shift his/her gaze down into the cockpit of the car (assuming 'properly mounted' means within some reasonable sight line of normal driving).
lacertosus
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lacertosus,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/8/2013 | 3:42:54 PM
re: Smartphone Maps While Driving Banned In California
Rule is too strict. What about built in navigation/entertainment systems? To me these are more of a distraction than being on the phone.
Blst
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Blst,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/8/2013 | 3:40:19 PM
re: Smartphone Maps While Driving Banned In California
I have always thought that a smartphone should come with a very functional and beautiful car mount holder, which saves many precious lives, as most of us are drivers. It would be interesting how penetrated car mount device is at present relative to smartphone penetration. Also the matter of debate will be the safety of car mount holder itself as it may become a major risk for driver and passengers in case of accident. Ideally, every car needs to have a standardized space to which an user can put his/her smartphone securely, which probably does not make car makers happy as it may become a threat to OEM dashboard navigation (i.e. intelligent system as some makers call it).
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