California Lawmakers Aim To Prevent Accidents -- No More GPS Apps When Driving

April 18, 2013,

California is already fairly strict as far as distracted driving rules go.

Recently, however, the outcome of a court case has toughened up the state laws just a little bit more by imposing a ban on using GPS apps on your smart phones. Southern California Public Radio discussed the issue of the new court ruling and what it means for drivers. 855196_pocket_pc.jpg

Our Los Angeles car accident lawyers know that using any type of handheld device for any reason when driving can create a four-times greater risk of becoming involved in a car crash. By extending cell phone prohibitions to ban the use of GPS apps when driving, California is now taking another step towards protecting residents by preventing them from using their phones in another way.

GPS Use Can be Dangerous When Driving
Distraction.gov lists a variety of different types of distracting behavior that can be dangerous behind the wheel. Cell phone use is, of course, one of the behaviors listed. Entering information into a navigation system is also another listed distracting behavior that can up the accident risk. This is true whether the driver is using a cell-phone GPS or other type of GPS device in his or her vehicle.

However, cell phones may have smaller screens, may require more clicks and steps to enter an address and may require more concentration to use as compared with a dedicated stand-alone GPS that you keep on your windshield or stationed in the front dash of your car.

Another problem is that a driver who uses a GPS on his phone has to handle the phone in order to get into the app, to enter information and to track his progress as he travels to his destination. The driver is thus handling his phone when using it as a GPS, just as he handles it when he texts or talks.

Recognizing the problem, the ruling extending the cell phone ban to the use of a GPS stated that the phone presented a distracted: "whether the wireless telephone was being used as a telephone, a GPS navigator a clock or a device for sending and receiving text messages and emails."

Cell phone GPS devices, in other words, shouldn't be treated any differently than other cell phone features. Handling a cell phone is a no-no and the new court decision says using your phone as a GPS and entering data while driving is forbidden as well.

The ruling make a lot of sense in light of California's cell phone use bands since the laws intended to curb distracted driving and keep the hands on the wheel didn't specifically forbid every single smart phone activity by name. Since entering data into a GPS on the phone is just as dangerous as typing a text, it is not allowed.

Staying Safe Without Getting Lost
Of course, drivers still need to know where they are going, despite the ban on entering data into a phone's GPS system. Having a dedicated GPS that is in a visible place may be one good way to solve this issue and a stand-alone GPS may be easier to read and less of a distraction than a phone.

Drivers should also take care to enter the address of their destination into their GPS before starting to drive. If you have your destination programmed in, you can just follow the turns and directions given by the machine and not worry about having to focus on typing an address while you drive.

If you have been injured in a distracted driving accident, contact Vincent Howard today for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights. Call (800) 872-5925.

Additional Resources:

Dangerous Hospital Policy Could Lead to Patient Injuries, California Injury Lawyers Blog, April 2, 2013

Los Angeles Traffic Safety: April is Distracted Driving Month, California Injury lawyers Blog, March 31, 2013.