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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It has nothing to do with distraction...
By djcameron on 4/8/2013 4:22:33 PM , Rating: 2
The real reason they are passing these idiotic laws is for purposes of revenue generation. All a cop needs to do is say he saw you looking down at something, and you'll get a ticket. Instant revenue!

By Nutzo on 4/9/2013 2:28:33 PM , Rating: 2
Basically this ruling is because some people where using the GPS/MAP argument to fight their cell phone tickets, and the state doesn’t like anything cutting into their revenue schemes.

With this ruling, there is no argument you can use if caught holding your cell phone while sitting in your car (even if you were just moving it from your pocket to the seat. Even if you are sitting at a stop light, or parked at the curb with the car running, you will get a ticket.

Worse than that, a bill was just introduced to make it almost impossible to fight red light camera tickets in California. It was authored by a Democrat who received significant campaign contributions from a couple red light camera companies. No conflict of interest there :(

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