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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: "I am Governor Jerry Brown!
By docawolff on 4/8/2013 4:49:12 PM , Rating: 4
Wow! I thought me and my wife were the only ones to flee California! You are right--great weather, but the people's attitude prompted us to flee rather than raise kids there.

Funny story: We lived in San Diego. We would frequently hear:

"San Diego is America's Finest City."

We would respond:

"Oh? What other cities have you lived in?"

"None. Why?"

RE: "I am Governor Jerry Brown!
By retrospooty on 4/8/13, Rating: 0
RE: "I am Governor Jerry Brown!
By TheEinstein on 4/8/2013 9:28:10 PM , Rating: 2
Oh it is worse.

If you were stupid and bought a house in California and wish to move out lf the State and sell your home...

Be prepared to lose huge. They will tax you hard but offer a major reduction if you buy another house in California.

It is how they plan to entrap as many from fleeing as possible.

Damned if you do, damned if you dont.

RE: "I am Governor Jerry Brown!
By Ammohunt on 4/9/2013 1:20:04 PM , Rating: 2
This is why there are huge tracts of houses sitting empty in cities that have gone bankrupt the bank owns those houses now so much for their tax scheme just adds misery on top of misery.

RE: "I am Governor Jerry Brown!
By Nutzo on 4/9/2013 2:19:32 PM , Rating: 2
That's the main problem, you lived near San Francisco which is the center of most of California's problems.

Lucky I live in South Orange County which is one of the more conservative areas of the state, so we are somewhat shielded from the worse of what is happening.

Even though I'm a native, I just hope I can hold out for several more years until I can retire and move out of state.

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