Using a hands-on GPS while driving in California is now illegal

By on April 8, 2013, 1:00 PM

Talking or text messaging while driving is already illegal in a number of states but that’s seemingly not enough for California officials. As such, lawmakers in The Golden State have passed a law making it illegal to use a hands-on mapping application on your phone while driving in an effort to help eliminate some of the grey area with regards to using electronic devices behind the wheel.

The new interpretation of the law from the appeals court essentially aims to eliminate virtually every possible use of a phone while driving in the state. Well, sort of. As it’s written, existing laws still permit those operating motor vehicles to place calls or send / receive text messages so long as the entire process is set up for hands-free access.

That same loophole still applies to GPS navigation. For example, a driver could enter in the coordinates of their destination into their phone before setting out, place the device in a cradle, charging dock or heck, even on the passenger seat and enable voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation to assist with directions.

There are still ways to get around using a touch-based GPS system, however. Many new cars come with touch-only GPS systems built into the dashboard which are still legal to use in California. Perhaps auto makers will be more mindful to try and integrate voice-activated controls in future models given the recent changes in the law.

It’s still up for debate as to whether or not voice-guided directions are considered a distraction. The National Safety Council points out that there is no research or evidence that indicates voice-activated technologies eliminate or even reduce the distraction to the drivers’ mind.

User Comments: 15

Got something to say? Post a comment
Guest said:

Ok, so next law will be that you are not allowed to have passengers. Trust me some are way more distracting than cell phone.

VitalyT VitalyT said:

As long as you are holding your phone below the dashboard, no cop is going to see it until he is right next to your car, by which moment you can throw it somewhere else or put in the pocket. Proving that you did would be impossible. That's what people are doing anyway.

MilwaukeeMike said:

'Doing right ain't got no end'.

We all know texting and driving is a bad combo, but has GPS really caused a problem, or is this just another example of politicians protecting us from ourselves for no good reason?

it's a good thing the weather is nice in CA cause with the taxes and laws, it must be rough living there.

JC713 JC713 said:

With the 1 handed zoom feature in Google Maps, this isnt really a danger.

Jim$ter said:

Guess who will become California's #1 Sponsor. Google Glass!!

1 person liked this | Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

Ok, so next law will be that you are not allowed to have passengers. Trust me some are way more distracting than cell phone.

Tell me about it, especially if she is wearing a mini skirt.

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

Guess who will become California's #1 Sponsor. Google Glass!!

Nah it'll be Microsoft Monocle

Tygerstrike said:

I can understand the WHY behind this. However as a poster above pointed out. paraphrasing here "Do what you want just dont get caught". That appears to be a prevailing attitude around the country. Despite all the laws that tell ppl put your damn phone down and control that 2 ton beast your in, ppl still play a form of Russian Roulette. In my state (Nevada) I still see ppl refusing to use a Bluetooth headset. I know we have a ton of gambling, but really, why gamble with yours or someone elses life. None of us can state with absolute certainty that we are NOT distracted by a call/text/email. We take our eyes off the road for mere seconds, and something bad can happen. Im waiting because it will happen within a few years, someone will take out a crowd of kids because texting was more important then those childrens lives, it just unfortunate that its going to cost peoples lives. When that happends we will see a country wide ban on cellphone use in the car. As it stands, in my state you can recieve a ticket simply because you have no BlueTooth or hands free device in the car while having a cellphone in the car. Best bet......DONT TALK ON YOUR PHONE! DONT PLAY WITH YOUR GPS! The alternative is either a hefty fine or someone could die. Just turn off your phone/tablet when you get in the car. With GPS just get all your trip work done before you get on the road.

VitalyT VitalyT said:

And now from the Rage Driving department... this year Angry Birds took lives of over 1000 drivers, along with their families, and even a few pets - some in the car with a drive-game-enjoying pet-lovers, and some unlucky under the car.

Happy Gaming!

Guest said:

Government can go to hell. Death to government, especially in the Peoples' Democratic Republic of California. Patriots should openly flout these laws. Dark tinted windows, anyone? Imagine, a state where one gay man can walk another naked on a leash down the street and that's fine, but chicken**** offenses are made up and prosecuted.

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

And then we all realise we look at our speedometer very often to avoid the excessive fines..and all issues of distraction fly out the window.

Guest said:

Ok, so next time I'm driving I'll just break out my fold away map....yeah, that's much safer than mobile GPS.

Guest said:

Just have to be careful when to use these devices. If you are on the open road by yourself its probably ok to send a quick text or enter new destination on a GPS. But if you are in heavy traffic moving at 80mph then put down the phone.

Guest said:

Using a hands-on gps while driving practically same as texting/checking your email while driving..

why you don't buy docking station that you can attach your phone to it..

Guest said:

We have a solution! Go Hands Free with Dashboards to Desktops! Revolutionizing today's gadgetized vehicle by convenient functional gadgetry placement.

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.