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Using Smartphone Map While Driving Legal, Court Rules

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iPhone Maps

iPhone Maps (Photo credit: smjbk)

If you were on your way to work and found yourself stuck in roadwork-related traffic, would you check the map on your smartphone for an alternate route? Most of us have and, until recently, could have received a ticket for it. After a CHP officer ticketed Steven Spriggs in January 2012, he challenged the case in traffic court and lost. Undeterred, he appealed the ruling himself to a three-judge panel in Fresno County Superior Court, where he lost a second time. His third trip to court, this time accompanied by an attorney, proved successful: the 5th District Court of Appeal reversed the earlier court decision, making it legal to read a map on a handheld cellphone while driving, reported the Orange County Register.

Spriggs received the ticket after the passage of a California law banning the use of handheld wireless communication devices for all drivers and of hands-free ones for drivers under the age of 18 but before the law prohibiting texting while driving was passed. As the parent of a child who was injured by a distracted driver, he hopes his win in court, which the state attorney general could still challenge to the California Supreme Court, will prompt legislators to reevaluate the state’s distracted driving laws and close any loopholes-like whether or not the use of map applications should be permitted.

Distracted driving claimed 3,328 lives in the United States in 2012 and caused injury to 421,000 others, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Whether reaching for the phone, dialing, or texting, drivers increase their risk of a crash by three times. Concentrating on a map is probably just as distracting as reading a text message and, like texting while driving, should be illegal. We should all check our maps for traffic or directions before we set out on a trip and pull over if we need to see them again.

For more information on California’s distracted driving laws, call us at 888-752-7474 or contact us online.

What do you think? Should viewing a map application while driving be legal?

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