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Using Handheld Phone GPS While Driving Is Legal In California

Soulskill posted about 10 months ago | from the now-just-wait-for-somebody-to-make-a-GPS-bejeweled-mashup dept.

The Courts 142

jfruh writes "Steven R. Spriggs was ticketed and fined $165 for violating California's law on cell phone use while operating a motor vehicle, which states that you can only use a phone while driving if you have a hands-free device. But he appealed the judgement, arguing that the law only applied to actually talking on the phone, whereas he had been caught checking his GPS app. Now an appeals court has agreed with him. The law in question was enacted in 2006, before the smartphone boom."

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Yes, that's obviously safer (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46367873)

Looking at the screen and interacting with it is obviously safer than holding the phone to your ear and talking to someone. Don't be an idiot. You're operating a two ton machine at speed. Keep your eyes on the road.

Re:Yes, that's obviously safer (5, Informative)

StatureOfLiberty (1333335) | about 10 months ago | (#46367963)

Looking at the screen and interacting with it is obviously safer than holding the phone to your ear and talking to someone. Don't be an idiot. You're operating a two ton machine at speed. Keep your eyes on the road.

Steven R. Spriggs, the appellant, held his mobile phone in his hand to use the mapping application to find his way around the congestion when STOPPED in heavy traffic

This person was not moving at the time. On top of that, if the phone had been a Garmin GPS instead of a phone the ticket would never have been issued even though the user would have been using both devices in the same way.
This kind of stuff is just stupid.

Re:Yes, that's obviously safer (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46368025)

Stop and go traffic is among the most accident prone situations.

Re:Yes, that's obviously safer (4, Interesting)

Wycliffe (116160) | about 10 months ago | (#46368295)

Stop and go traffic is among the most accident prone situations.

This might be true. But accidents are not all equal. You are MUCH more likely to die
or seriously injure someone while driving at high speed than in slow stop and go traffic
because of both the speed of collision as well as reaction time.

Re:Yes, that's obviously safer (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46368675)

Correction:
You are much more likely to die if you hit MY car in stop-and-go traffic.

Re:Yes, that's obviously safer (2)

suutar (1860506) | about 10 months ago | (#46368893)

The danger of inattention, though, is linked to the speed of the vehicle. No movement, no extra danger. A stopped car is a stopped car whether the driver is checking his mirrors every second or asleep. If the situation changes and he doesn't notice that he can become un-stopped, I'm sure the drivers around him will be sure to let him know, but until then, his behavior does not affect anyone's danger level.

Re:Yes, that's obviously safer (0)

Joce640k (829181) | about 10 months ago | (#46368049)

This kind of stuff is just stupid.

That's lawyers for you...

One law saying "don't drive like an ass" should be good enough, but nooooooo, we're lawyers.

(I know, I know... there are asses with far more road sense than many drivers around here... [youtube.com] )

Re:Yes, that's obviously safer (4, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 10 months ago | (#46368449)

This person was not moving at the time. On top of that, if the phone had been a Garmin GPS instead of a phone the ticket would never have been issued even though the user would have been using both devices in the same way.

I think that's giving more credit to the cop than is deserved. As you said, the guy was stopped. The cop is already ignoring the spirit of the law. I doubt the cop would pay attention to the specific lettering of the law which would draw a distinction between GPS only and cell phones.

Re:Yes, that's obviously safer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46368503)

Cops behaving badly? Huh...

Re:Yes, that's obviously safer (1)

icebike (68054) | about 10 months ago | (#46368959)

I think that's giving more credit to the cop than is deserved. As you said, the guy was stopped. The cop is already ignoring the spirit of the law. I doubt the cop would pay attention to the specific lettering of the law which would draw a distinction between GPS only and cell phones.

Had the motorist spent 10 bucks for a generic window mount, there would't have been an issue.

However, the judges ruling doesn't specify that you can mess with your phone if stopped, it just says you can mess with your phone as long as you are not "listening and talking" on the phone other than hands free .

Now the law has to be amended, to make it clear that you can't be fiddling with a phone while driving, and that includes while stopped at lights
or in heavy traffic. Because as it stands, playing Angry Birds, or watching porn is ok.

Re:Yes, that's obviously safer (1)

bughunter (10093) | about 10 months ago | (#46369083)

At least he was engaged in the act of driving, which includes both navigation and piloting.

I see way too many drivers doing something other than driving while driving, beyond just texting or chatting on their phones. I've seen people applying makeup, shaving, eating with two hands, and even reading a book.

Even with a handsfree device, holding a conversation is a distraction from driving.

Re:Yes, that's obviously safer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46369237)

Driving while lost can also be insanely dangerous. I'd prefer people check their GPS to know when to start moving over to exit a freeway or know which lane to be in rather than reacting at the last minute when signage alerts them.

Re:Yes, that's obviously safer (1)

kimvette (919543) | about 10 months ago | (#46369299)

It's certainly safer than navigating using a paper map.

Still should be hands free (2)

Cidtek (632990) | about 10 months ago | (#46367891)

No reason why a windshield or dash mount cant be required for using the phone as a gps.

Re:Still should be hands free (3, Informative)

pr0fessor (1940368) | about 10 months ago | (#46367973)

No reason why a windshield or dash mount cant be required for using the phone as a gps.

A cell phone mount is required in some states to use it for gps including the one I live in. I had three cars totaled while they were parked by cell phone users two before they passed a no cell phone law and once after.

Re:Still should be hands free (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 10 months ago | (#46368099)

Interesting.

What states ban cell phone talking while driving? GPS while driving?

My state really only recently made it an offense to text while driving, but everything else in most states I move about it don't restrict cell phone use for talking etc...nor do they require hands free.

Is it mostly just CA and NY that ban all things cell phone while operating a vehicle?

Re:Still should be hands free (2)

BattleApple (956701) | about 10 months ago | (#46368361)

No states ban all cell phone use while driving. Some states ban cell phone use under certain conditions - novice drivers, school bus drivers, commercial vehicles, etc.

Re:Still should be hands free (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about 10 months ago | (#46369117)

New york

Re:Still should be hands free (2)

pr0fessor (1940368) | about 10 months ago | (#46368499)

Kansas did about five or six years ago you can talk on the phone but texting and apps are a $60 fine. if you are using it for GPS it needs to be in some kind of mount.

Same in Colorado and Nebraska but I'm not sure how much the fine is.

Missouri bans texting for driver under 21 years old.

Oklahoma bans texting or cell phone use for intermediate or learner permits and a distracted driving law that a cell phone could fall under if you are in an accident while using it.

Re:Still should be hands free (4, Informative)

parkinglot777 (2563877) | about 10 months ago | (#46368611)

What states ban cell phone talking while driving?

Here you are http://www.ghsa.org/html/state... [ghsa.org]

Re:Still should be hands free (2)

gnick (1211984) | about 10 months ago | (#46368713)

I don't know about state laws, but you'd better be "hands-free" in Santa Fe. Personally, I find someplace to pull over should I need to talk because I find myself distracted but am safer looking at a GPS-focused map than craning my neck to figure where the hell I'm going. My wife's just the opposite - She talks on the phone just fine while driving, but looking at a GPS unit could endanger herself and others.

Re:Still should be hands free (1)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | about 10 months ago | (#46369327)

I don't know about state laws, but you'd better be "hands-free" in Santa Fe. Personally, I find someplace to pull over should I need to talk because I find myself distracted but am safer looking at a GPS-focused map than craning my neck to figure where the hell I'm going. My wife's just the opposite - She talks on the phone just fine while driving, but looking at a GPS unit could endanger herself and others.

In California stopping on the shoulder to talk on the phone will also result in a ticket. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Re:Still should be hands free (1)

icebike (68054) | about 10 months ago | (#46369007)

Is it mostly just CA and NY that ban all things cell phone while operating a vehicle?

How did you get this deep into the conversation and not realize CA does NOT ban all things cell phone?
The story is about CA.

Re:Still should be hands free (3, Funny)

macraig (621737) | about 10 months ago | (#46367979)

Except ironically that would require repealing laws in California since windshield mounts were made illegal many years ago. I can't recall whether dash mounts were similarly criminalized. California became a nanny state a long time ago and that nanny is a German fraulein bitch.

Re:Still should be hands free (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46367997)

that nanny is a German fraulein bitch.

Kinda like Senator Dianne Feinstein?

Re:Still should be hands free (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46368165)

that nanny is a German fraulein bitch.

Kinda like Senator Dianne Feinstein?

That is correct. We also would have accepted Nancy Pelosi.

Re:Still should be hands free (3, Informative)

BradMajors (995624) | about 10 months ago | (#46368145)

Windshield mounts are legal in California in the lower left hand corner of the window.

Re:Still should be hands free (3, Informative)

pepty (1976012) | about 10 months ago | (#46368237)

Except ironically that would require repealing laws in California since windshield mounts were made illegal many years ago. I can't recall whether dash mounts were similarly criminalized. California became a nanny state a long time ago and that nanny is a German fraulein bitch.

Oh the horror of not being allowed to put your GPS where it will block your view or get launched into your skull by an airbag. You can mount it to the windshield, but it has to be in a corner.

(12) A portable Global Positioning System (GPS), which may be mounted in a seven-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield farthest removed from the driver or in a five-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield nearest to the driver and outside of an airbag deployment zone,

Re:Still should be hands free (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about 10 months ago | (#46368377)

I find that would be more obstructive than top-left or tucked against the mirror.

Re:Still should be hands free (3, Insightful)

asylumx (881307) | about 10 months ago | (#46368985)

There's an argument to be made that putting it nearer the center of the windshield helps you keep your eyes on the road, whereas putting it off in a corner makes you take your eyes off the road to look at it. Yes, it may block part of your vision beyond the windshield in that spot, but like I said, there's an argument to be made. If there weren't at least two sides to it, it wouldn't be much of an argument now would it?

Re:Still should be hands free (2)

PRMan (959735) | about 10 months ago | (#46368433)

Windshield mounts were made legal about 4-5 years ago, as long as they fit in the lower left corner of your windshield.

Re:Still should be hands free (1)

macraig (621737) | about 10 months ago | (#46368955)

Or, as other folks have corrected me, in a 7-inch square in the opposite corner,

Re:Still should be hands free (2)

crankyspice (63953) | about 10 months ago | (#46368505)

Except ironically that would require repealing laws in California since windshield mounts were made illegal many years ago.

Whatchotalkin' 'bout Willis?

Cal. Veh. Code 26708(b)(12) [ca.gov] : “A portable Global Positioning System (GPS) ... may be mounted in a seven-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield farthest removed from the driver or in a five-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield nearest to the driver ...”

Re:Still should be hands free (1)

macraig (621737) | about 10 months ago | (#46368973)

Yeah, I didn't know. Did laws change or did I hear it wrong in the first place?

Re:Still should be hands free (1)

bob_super (3391281) | about 10 months ago | (#46369185)

Letter of the law says that mounting your cellphone, even used as GPS, qouldn't be legal.

actually (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46368669)

it is not illegal to have a windshield mounted GPS provided:

per CA Vehicle Code 26708 (a)(12)

A portable Global Positioning System (GPS), which may be mounted in a seven-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield farthest removed from the driver or in a five-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield nearest to the driver and outside of an airbag deployment zone, if the system is used only for door-to-door navigation while the motor vehicle is being operated.

its stupid, but there is a lot of confusion about this by both LEOs and drivers.

Re:Still should be hands free (1)

UnanimousCoward (9841) | about 10 months ago | (#46368977)

>>German fraulein bitch...

Talk about the Dept of Redundancy Dept [urbandictionary.com] . Tell us how you really feel :P

Re:Still should be hands free (1)

ripvlan (2609033) | about 10 months ago | (#46369215)

So very inconsistent. I drove cross country a few years ago. My GPS came with a suction-cup window mount, and for a variety of reasons I also purchased a dash-mount. Good thing because one upper-mid-west state requires dash mount. They had a big sign as I crossed the border announcing that requirement along with their cell-phone rules. I think I Googled something like "GPS mounting laws" while prepping for my trip.

I now travel on business and bring the dash-mount with me everywhere I go because of that one restriction. Plus some rental car windshields are too short to use the suction-cup (angle too great) - such that the GPS hits the dash - or I have to place the suction-cup so high that it blocks my view.

Nobody stopped me in CA last week - I put the dashmount right in the middle of the dash above the radio.

Re:Still should be hands free (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 10 months ago | (#46368089)

You are correct, but that is not what the current law DOES.

GPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46367903)

kinda off-topic but: the article reminded me to find an Android app that allows me to save waypoints and that will display longitude, latitude and altitude. Or maybe I should buy a real GPS receiver.

Re:GPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46368251)

I think OsmAnd does all of that. I'm just not 100% sure whether it can show the longitude/latitude (you can search for places by lat./long., but that is different).

worst case scenario, it's open source, submit a bug/new feature report or fix it yourself...

Dumb ruling (0)

Yold (473518) | about 10 months ago | (#46367917)

I think that a smartphone mount should be mandatory so that the device isn't in your hand. Texting and driving is a huge safety issue, and I'd imaging that screwing around with a GPS (entering text) is similarly dangerous. It's unfortunate that the court isn't willing to uphold the spirit of the law here.

Re:Dumb ruling (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | about 10 months ago | (#46367969)

Dumb ruling, or accurate ruling on a dumb law?

Re:Dumb ruling (2)

Yold (473518) | about 10 months ago | (#46368065)

Read the article, there is a relevant clause of the legislation that is open to interpretation. This is why we have courts, so that the interpretation of laws can progress with changes to technology, society, etc.

How are police supposed to distinguish between drivers texting and drivers using their GPS? Texting requires hands-free operation, so should using a GPS.

Re:Dumb ruling (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46368645)

No, it is not the judiciary's job to create new laws for changing times. That's judicial activism, and changing laws is the job of the legislature. The Judiciary should rule according to the constitution, laws, and case law. Often, judges have to rule about ambiguous situations and they should rule with the language and spirit of the laws, not with what's progressive at the time.

Re:Dumb ruling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46368017)

No, it is not unfortunate but the way justice is supposed to work.

Change the law to make it fit to reality, that's what's needed because it's a bad one irregadless of the rise of smartphones. Obviously too specific and not to the real point.

Re:Dumb ruling (4, Informative)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 10 months ago | (#46368075)

If you want to uphold the real spirit of the law you outlaw any use of any phone - mount or not.

Studies have shown that hands free mountings do NOT reduce accidents.

Re:Dumb ruling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46368413)

Studies have shown that hands free mountings do NOT reduce accidents.

Wouldn't that also mean that holding a phone in your hand does NOT increase accidents?
Studies have shown a lot of things. Fortunately we usually ignore them.

Re:Dumb ruling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46368719)

The true spirit of the law is a compromise. They didn't bad all forms of cell phone usage, because if they had, then it would never have been voted for. A judge's interpretation of that law as totally banning all cell phone use would be an affront to the very rule of law on which our society is based. It would be rule by king or oligarchy. Very bad idea.

Re:Dumb ruling (1)

suutar (1860506) | about 10 months ago | (#46368909)

Then you should also ban GPS units. Or is there some significant difference between a phone GPS app in a handsfree mount and a Garmin GPS appliance? The studies I've heard of that address your point are still talking about conversation, not GPS usage.

Re:Dumb ruling (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 10 months ago | (#46369081)

Personally, i dont touch my phone while moving. I *might* look at the phone at a stoplight to see who called, and pull over to call back if its important, but i wont even talk on the phone while driving.

I also dont yak up a storm with passengers, for the same reason.

Re:Dumb ruling (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 10 months ago | (#46368081)

I think that a smartphone mount should be mandatory so that the device isn't in your hand.

Even better: Make the navigation app stop responding to input whenever the phone is moving.

Re:Dumb ruling (5, Insightful)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | about 10 months ago | (#46368241)

Even better: Make the navigation app stop responding to input whenever the phone is moving.

The phone can't distinguish between the driver using the phone while it's moving and a passenger using the phone while it's moving. I, for one, would be very annoyed if my phone stopped working whenever I was riding in someone else's car, or on public transportation. There's also the fact that this misfeature would actively prevent a passenger from assisting the driver with navigation functions.

Re:Dumb ruling (4, Interesting)

nugatory78 (971318) | about 10 months ago | (#46368349)

This is exactly the issue I have with my Subaru BRZ. If the car is moving, you can't enter information into the GPS. Thats all well and good when there is only me in the car, but stopping my passenger from using it is asinine! I hit this issue on a road trip, I wanted my passenger to try and find somewhere up ahead for us to eat (in the country with no decent cell data connection). I ended up having to pull off the highway and pull over just to find a nearby restaurant... not impressed.

Re:Dumb ruling (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46368465)

Fortunately you can just pull out your cell phone, and use the GPS on that. Clearly Subaru thinks this is much safer.

Re: Dumb rulling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46368647)

This could easily be remedied by programming the car's computer to unlock the GPS (assuming manufacturer installed) whenever the passenger airbag sensor in the seat indicates someone is sitting in it. Its not fool-proof but it would work in your scenario.

Re: Dumb rulling (2)

bob_super (3391281) | about 10 months ago | (#46369175)

people would quickly learn to drive around with a bag of potatoes.

Re:Dumb ruling (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about 10 months ago | (#46368405)

This. So damn annoying.

Re:Dumb ruling (2)

Kryptonian Jor-El (970056) | about 10 months ago | (#46368287)

So you suggest people stopping on the freeway and waiting until they can make changes to their device? How about we just make the driving test harder so not every shit driver can get one

Re:Dumb ruling (1)

Talderas (1212466) | about 10 months ago | (#46368087)

They should just pass a law that states that you must be hands free while driving. Problem solved because that's the obvious reason for the cell phone law.

Re:Dumb ruling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46368289)

Hands free driving! Bring on the autonomous cars so I can finally talk and drive at the same time.

Re:Dumb ruling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46368411)

Lets just skip right to hands free flying!
http://tech.slashdot.org/story... [slashdot.org]

Re:Dumb ruling (2)

InvalidError (771317) | about 10 months ago | (#46368451)

Except many studies have shown that hands-free phone operation is about just as bad as hands-on.

Most of the distraction-based accidents are caused by people picking the wrong time to do something, even simple things like changing radio station, heating/AC settings or checking their speedometer.

Hands-free does not prevent people from letting themselves get distracted by or otherwise focusing their attention on the wrong things at the wrong time. Some people have suggested locking out non-essential controls while vehicles are in movement so drivers have no choice but to focus on the road but going to such an extreme would likely become a grievance for many people and cause its own lot of problems such as passengers being unable to access those controls either.

Ideally, people should be able to gauge circumstances and their own abilities to decide the most appropriate moments to do something safely but most people grossly over-estimate their abilities and the safety margins around them so we end up with stiff restrictions to eliminate most variables.

Re:Dumb ruling (1)

Ichijo (607641) | about 10 months ago | (#46369079)

Most of the distraction-based accidents are caused by people picking the wrong time to do something, even simple things like changing radio station, heating/AC settings or checking their speedometer.

...and not maintaining a safe following distance [wikipedia.org] under the conditions. It's perfectly safe to do those things if you give yourself enough reaction time.

...most people grossly over-estimate their abilities and the safety margins around them so we end up with stiff restrictions to eliminate most variables.

Except speed limits. The 85th percentile rule [streetsblog.net] says that, if 100 cars are clocked along a road, the speed limit should be set at the speed of the 16th fastest car.

Re:Dumb ruling (1)

WaffleMonster (969671) | about 10 months ago | (#46368957)

I think that a smartphone mount should be mandatory so that the device isn't in your hand. It's unfortunate that the court isn't willing to uphold the spirit of the law here.

Would it be against the law to have a paper map sprawled out all over the console? Is this any less distracting than a device which automatically tells you where you are at all times? If referencing paper maps is legal it is not clear to me "spirit" of law is consistent with your interpretation especially given GPS maps on cell phones didn't exist at the time this law was enacted.

Texting and driving is a huge safety issue, and I'd imaging that screwing around with a GPS (entering text) is similarly dangerous.

There is no information to suggest from ruling any inputting or screwing around was occurring at the time. "Spriggs was cited for looking at a map on his cellular telephone while holding the telephone in his hand and driving"

Why was he pulled over? (4, Interesting)

Dareth (47614) | about 10 months ago | (#46367919)

If he was only pulled over because the officer observed him using an electronic device then the driver was correct. If he was pulled over for dangerous or reckless driving while using a device then the office wrote him the wrong ticket.

Re:Why was he pulled over? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46367981)

If he was using a handheld electronic device while driving, then he was driving recklessly.

Re:Why was he pulled over? (4, Informative)

H0p313ss (811249) | about 10 months ago | (#46368155)

Spriggs said he was stuck in traffic at the time, and therefore it would have been impossible to be driving recklessly.

He has also said that he opposes phone calls and texting while driving and would support reckless driving charges for mobile phone users where appropriate, but this was not one of those cases so he challenged the ticket.

Re:Why was he pulled over? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46369139)

You can drive recklessly in stop and go traffic. And from my experience, that's when most road rage occurs with people lane jumping while trying to get ahead of every body else.

Re:Why was he pulled over? (3, Funny)

kamapuaa (555446) | about 10 months ago | (#46368267)

If he didn't get into a car accident, then he was driving wrecklessly.

Re:Why was he pulled over? (1)

BattleApple (956701) | about 10 months ago | (#46368429)

That's driving crashlessly

Re:Why was he pulled over? (1)

Kryptonian Jor-El (970056) | about 10 months ago | (#46368299)

no

Re:Why was he pulled over? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46368415)

No, if we was swerving and running into things, then and only then was he driving recklessly.

If his driving was as if he was unimpaired, then he was unimpaired, regardless of how much you think his other activities could have impaired him.

Re:Why was he pulled over? (1)

InvalidError (771317) | about 10 months ago | (#46368905)

You might want to re-check your definition of reckless driving.

By most states' definition, a reckless driver must display *wanton* (violent, intentional and unprovoked) disregard for the public's safety and traffic rules. As long as your electronic-device-using driver sticks to his lane in traffic, maintains safe speed and distances, follows signs, etc. reasonably well, there is no reckless there. Distracted and potentially dangerous, sure. But not reckless.

Weaving through traffic, ignoring speed limits, road signs, tailgating, street racing, etc. are reckless driving - deliberately ignoring safety and putting others at significant risk.

BTW, which one do you think is the most dangerous driver on the road:
1- a lost driver getting flustered from having no clue where he is
2- a lost driver using a GPS to pull a map and directions

From my experiences getting lost both with and without GPS as a backup, I would say having the GPS is safer: yes, the initial setup has potentially higher risk but once that is done, it immediately removes the stress from having no clue where I am and allows me to get off the road much quicker than driving around in a flustered state until I reach a road or highway I'm familiar with, continue on my way from there and hopefully not get lost on my next attempt.

Re:Why was he pulled over? (1)

asylumx (881307) | about 10 months ago | (#46369145)

If he was using a handheld electronic device while driving, then he was driving recklessly.

Exactly! This is why we should ban all electric razors from use whilst driving! Oh, you were talking about cell phones only? Why? What's the difference?

Re:Why was he pulled over? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 10 months ago | (#46369207)

If he was pulled over for dangerous or reckless driving while using a device then the office wrote him the wrong ticket.

Dangerous and reckless driving are subjective judgements. If there is any debate, the debate can become expensive. Talking on your cellphone is illegal whether you're driving badly or not, and it can easily be proven from records. So they go for the ticket which requires less paperwork and less potential time in court.

This doesn't make much sense. (1)

ZorinLynx (31751) | about 10 months ago | (#46367975)

Arguably, simply holding your phone to your ear and talking on it is a lot less distracting than LOOKING at the phone and tapping to find map directions.

Why is the former illegal, while the latter is okay? Either make them both illegal, or make it okay to *talk* on the phone as well.

Re:This doesn't make much sense. (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 10 months ago | (#46368057)

Kind of moot since he was not moving at the time (see TFA). But you don't have to be tapping to find map directions in order to use a mapping app. Often the app itself doesn't allow that.

The navigator built into my vehicle will give you turn-by-turn while you're moving, but won't let you program an address unless the parking brake is on. The Garmin that we rented twice on trips back east would not let you program it if it sensed that you were in motion. This makes it kinda difficult when you have a navigator riding shotgun manipulating the device, but it is a technical way to avoid "looking at the phone and tapping to find map directions" while in motion.

Re:This doesn't make much sense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46368187)

Actually, not really true. While I agree that looking at a map and tapping things certainly is distracting, I disagree that it's worse than talking to someone. It's been shown repeatedly that the act of processing speech takes a huge amount of high level brain power. That, combined with the fact that the person at the other end of the phone call doesn't know when dangerous situations are cropping up, and can't STFU appropriately is what makes it dangerous.

in other news (1)

nimbius (983462) | about 10 months ago | (#46368035)

speaking as an angelino, using a cellphone in los angeles is arbitrarily legal depending on class and social status. Are you a police officer? Do you have diplomatic plates? were you Justin Bieber? then rev up those angry birds on the 101 and get ready to snapchat your next novel.
if you're one of the unwashed masses then be prepared for an almost entirely random enforcement experience. is today a warning day? or is it our legendary MANDATORY ENFORCEMENT ZONE policy where you'll be fined no matter what. Did you use your cellphone at a red light in a school zone? double fine. Was there construction? double fine. Did you just rear-end someone while on a cellphone? that piece of technology will never be considered in the accident report and is as good as having never happened.

dont get me wrong. im not here to defend cell usage in a moving vehicle but there is nothing about LA that precludes you from setting your 4-ways, pulling over, checking the phone, and safely entering traffic again. Or hell, plan the route before you get in the car. The trouble i find is the LAPD is like a magic 8-ball when it comes to enforcing this law. if you can make it to court, if you have the money and the time, then 60% of the time you'll get out of it every time.

Re:in other news (1)

pr0fessor (1940368) | about 10 months ago | (#46368219)

I was rear ended at a stop light coming off an interstate by a woman talking on her cell phone. She got out of the car and came up to my car window before I had even managed to collect myself. She was still talking on her cell phone, trying to carry on two conversations and beg me not to call the police because it didn't do any damage, it's her boyfriend's car, and she doesn't know if he has insurance.

The only response I could get out was "uhhm" and to point at the sheriff standing behind her. Apparently they had been following her for a while because she kept drifting into the other lane or onto the shoulder of the road.

I have no idea what she was charged with but they took her away in handcuffs.

Re:in other news (1)

k6mfw (1182893) | about 10 months ago | (#46368445)

I have no idea what she was charged with but they took her away in handcuffs.

was she able to continue her conversation per hands-free feature on cellphone?

Re:in other news (1)

pr0fessor (1940368) | about 10 months ago | (#46368509)

No, but I wouldn't have been surprised if she had tried.

SB 28 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46368147)

I actually preferred the wording in SB 28 that was introduced in 2006. It not only made it illegal to text while driving, but the wording covered anything that took a significant portion of your attention from driving. This includes doing your makeup, shaving, eating. It got vetoed. Likely because the wording was a bit too broad and open to interpretation.

Re:SB 28 (1)

pepty (1976012) | about 10 months ago | (#46368325)

It not only made it illegal to text while driving, but the wording covered anything that took a significant portion of your attention from driving.

If it could have potentially precluded lawyers from billing hours on the phone while commuting then I'm surprised the bill even made it to the veto phase.

Being stupid legal in CA (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 10 months ago | (#46368161)

Just because something is legal, doesn't mean it's a good idea.

Re:Being stupid legal in CA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46368891)

Just because something is illegal, doesn't mean it's a bad idea.

It's all rumors (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 10 months ago | (#46368213)

California cop: Hafta make my quota...hafta make my quota... Hey you! Is that a phone?

Driver 1: No, it's a handheld GPS device.

Cop: Oh. Hey you over there! Is that a phone?

Driver 2: No, it's a handheld navigation system.

Cop: Oh. Hey, you, is that a phone?

Driver 3: No, it's a handheld telescoping built-in pleasure device.

paper maps? (1)

k6mfw (1182893) | about 10 months ago | (#46368401)

They are still around but soon they will be no more. You will have to subscribe to a cellphone service and have a connection (lots of luck in rural areas). There is nav systems built into cars that contains maps in memory (but have to pay I heard a few hundreds every year to upgrade). Call me a luddite but I liked the Thomas Guides (map page and grid). Unlike large foldout maps, these are like a book. With paper maps I can quickly look at general spot of my destination, then do an overview on how to get there, then zoom in with my eyes to see specifics and cross streets. But the Thomas Guides are now out of print, I heard new versions are all screwed up.

These days you address by GPS coordinates (great for flying a helicopter or firing a cruise missile) but give me an address. These car nav systems are kind of dumb if you ask me. Ok so you key in the address and it will speak specific directions. But geez I don't want it to say, "turn on El Camino, drive 1.73 miles, turn right to enter hwy 85. turn left to 280, turn. " I know how to get on freeway to SF, it is the specific address in the big city I am interested in seeking.

I don't like using maps such as http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov/ [ca.gov] on smartphones, screen too small to see detail unless I zoom in but then lose the overview.

Re:paper maps? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 10 months ago | (#46369111)

No one prints them around my parts.

But regardless, it doesn't really address the issue here, as you could always look at your digital map before you left the house so you know where you are going before you get there. Your map being on paper doesn't matter. In the old days when i traveled a lot, i have seen people trying to read maps 1/2 folded in their passenger seat weaving all over the place.

Just simplify the rule (0)

mark-t (151149) | about 10 months ago | (#46368757)

Heres an idea, make it illegal to hold or manipulate *ANYTHING* with either of your hands that is not actually part of the vehicle (ie, headlights, signal lights, gear shift are all okay), while the vehicle is in motion.

Re:Just simplify the rule (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | about 10 months ago | (#46369123)

How about a simpler idea: it's illegal to take your attention off the road and the act of driving. Doesn't matter why, only matters whether you're paying attention to your driving or not. That simplifies enforcement, if the cop sees you looking down inside the car rather than out the windshield at the road he doesn't have to worry about finding the right law for what you were looking at or even figuring out what you were looking at and you can't weasel out of it.

Re:Just simplify the rule (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 10 months ago | (#46369239)

I agree... but that really, that rule already exists, and is impossible to actually enforce in practice because even daydreaming can take your attention off of the road. Simply by observing externally, unless a person's driving is already visibly erattic, you cannot tell if a person is thinking about other things than driving their car. The point behind my suggestion is an objective metric by which you can unambiguously observe that a person is breaking the law and they will have absolutely no reasonable defense when they do such things.

Re:Just simplify the rule (1)

bob_super (3391281) | about 10 months ago | (#46369233)

I can't handle a long drive without picking my nose and releasing some endorphins, you insensitive clod!

Re:Just simplify the rule (0)

mark-t (151149) | about 10 months ago | (#46369333)

Then pull over... or do it at a stop sign or something... just not while the vehicle is in motion.

Yep... I'm insensitive.

Bad summary, as usual (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 10 months ago | (#46368773)

All the ruling says is that particular law does not apply to smart phones displaying maps. It says nothing about the law that deals with devices that can display video and do not have a vehicle interlock. The driver was just charged with the incorrect offence.

Distracted driving (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 10 months ago | (#46369041)

Don't care if its a 'real' gps, phone, radio or just looking at your passenger's tits. If you take your eyes of the road for any amount of time at all you *are* distracted, and a hazard to others.

Tragedy can happen in a liberal blink of an eye at road speeds, if you are not looking at what is going on around you, it can happen before you even know it was going to.

Re:Distracted driving (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46369313)

If you take your eyes of the road for any amount of time at all you *are* distracted, and a hazard to others. Tragedy can happen in a liberal blink of an eye at road speeds

I take it you blink one eye at a time? Still dangerous; it's affecting your peripheral vision.

Pleased to hear this (1)

Ethanol (176321) | about 10 months ago | (#46369351)

A friend of mine was ticketed a few months ago for checking the map on her cell phone while she was stopped at a red light. Some things are just absurd.

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