Print 48 comment(s) - last by shabby.. on Apr 9 at 10:01 PM

Western state sets a controversial driver distraction precedent

In the land of electric vehicles and honey, aka the nation's most populous state, California, controversy is brewing over distracted driving.

The Appellate Division Superior Court for the County of Fresno, Calif. made a controversial driver distraction ruling [PDF] this week, when it stiffened its ban on in-car smartphone use, banning motorists from looking at maps on their mobile devices while driving.

California, like most states allows motorists to consult paper-maps while driving -- a distraction that's considered dangerous, but at times necessary to motorists.  However, the exact same act on the a mobile device -- which arguably take less finger dexterity -- is verboten.

Distracted driving
This is okay, but using your smartphone is not. [Image Source: Petersen's 4 Wheel]

To be fair, the presiding Judge F. Brian Alvarez acknowledges that this cognitive dissonance between non-digital and digital uses exists in his ruling.  However, he says that the 2008 law passed by California's state legislature and the follow-up 2012 hands-free bill are explicit -- no manual interaction with digital devices of any kind can be performed while driving.

He suggests that the Californian legislature review the issue and possibly modify the law.

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The decision isn't entirely catastrophic to motorists; barring reversal from the legislature, the ruling still leaves drivers with some legal options.  Drivers can use hands free smartphone navigation software (which many phones now come with), although interacting with the device other than by voice is strictly illegal.  California also allows automated self-driving cars, although they are not yet widely commercially available.

And of course there's one other option for California's motorists -- a good old-fashioned map.

Source: The Appelate Division Superior Court for the County of Fresno, Calif.

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RE: sounds fair
By BRB29 on 4/8/2013 2:25:13 PM , Rating: 2
obviously you are really old or do not know how to efficiently use google navigation on a smartphone.

This is how easy it is.
tap nav app
choose voice then say "Pentagon City Mall"
phone creates best route depending on setting
I follow route

The only other time I touch it is to zoom out to check traffic ahead. If traffic is bad, it is literally 3 taps or less to reroute. Or you can just turn and the map auto reroute.

In fact, the navigation system is so easy and convenient to use that even my mom who's 60 knows how to use it.

The last time I used paper map, I have to constantly stop. With the road system being stupid complex now along with constant construction, I can't see why that is ever a good idea over a digital map that updates every day if it needs to.

RE: sounds fair
By Argon18 on 4/8/2013 3:27:23 PM , Rating: 3
P-city mall?? Do you live in Arlington, VA? ME TOO! HIGH FIVE!

RE: sounds fair
By raddude9 on 4/8/2013 7:33:56 PM , Rating: 2
Nope, not really old, I just don't use maps or GPS, my sense of direction is just that good. I don't think people should be using maps or gps while driving, people are bad enough drivers as it is.

RE: sounds fair
By Reclaimer77 on 4/8/2013 10:23:16 PM , Rating: 1
Having a good "sense of direction" means jack shit if you have no idea where you're at or where you're going.

Seriously come on, I have a good sense of direction too, but I'm not going to sit here and boast I know ever road, every street, every place in the entire country by heart!

RE: sounds fair
By BRB29 on 4/9/2013 7:46:59 AM , Rating: 2
sounds like you've never lived in a big city. You've never have to idle for hours in traffic because you did not take that detour since you don't know traffic ahead. You've never lived in a city where there's more roads and constant constructions than any human brain can remember.

So you think that a GPS nav device that can get people to where they need to be is bad in a city where traffic is terrible? You would think that getting people there and off the road to relieve traffic congestion is a good idea. I would also think that having my phone tell me when to turn and having a glance at my interactive map is much safer than someone sitting in the passenger seat guessing where I am and telling me inaccurate info. I KNOW it's definitely better than me trying to drive and read a huge map in lap.

RE: sounds fair
By Nutzo on 4/9/2013 2:34:33 PM , Rating: 2
And if you get caught doing any of that, even if sitting stopped at a light, you will get a ticket.

However, you can eat lunch, comb your hair, read a newspaper, turn around an yell at the kids, etc. and you don't have to worry.

"This is about the Internet.  Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis

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