A California appellate court decision states that you shouldn’t use your hands to control a mapping app on your phone.
The decision is in response to an appeal that claimed the state’s recent “no texting while driving” law didn’t apply to using a maps app. But, in eight tightly-argued pages, Judge Brian Alvarez ruled that the intention and the wording of the law (California vehicle code section 23123) are meant to prohibit the distraction of using a phone with your hands, regardless of whether you’re writing an SMS message, composing an email, or even checking the time.
Our review of the statute’s plain language leads us to conclude that the primary evil sought to be avoided is the distraction thedriver faces when using his or her hands to operate the phone. That distraction would be present whether the wireless telephone was beingused as a telephone, a GPS navigator, a clock or a device for sending and receiving text messages and emails.
It’s the “hands-on” use of a phone that is the problem targeted by the law, not the specific activity of texting, according to Alvarez.
“This statute … is specifically designed to prevent a driver from using a wireless telephone while driving unless the device is being used in a hands-free manner,” Alvarez concludes.
The ruling doesn’t apply outside of Fresno County, according to the Sacramento Bee, which interviewed Steven Spriggs, the motorist who appealed his “mapping while driving” fine.
In other words, if you’ve got an iPhone, use Siri; if you’ve got an Android phone, use its voice commands. In both cases, rely on the audible turn-by-turn navigation cues — and don’t try to enter a new destination or reroute your trip with your fingertips while you’re driving.
The statute says violators are liable for a $20 fine on the first offense and $50 for subsequent offenses, although Spriggs got hit with a total of $160 in fines.
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