California Outlaws In-Car Smartphone Navigation Systems

If you don't have an in-car navigation system or are annoyed by the one you do have, what do you do? Pull out your smartphone and enable its GPS function, right? Not in California. It's now illegal to use while driving.

The state is broadening what it considers distracted driving to include using a GPS-enabled phone for navigation. is reporting that a federal appeals court in Fresno County recently ruled that "distraction would be present 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."

What's unclear from the ruling is if a hands-free version of the GPS-enabled phone would be allowed. Talking and texting while driving are already illegal in California unless the phone is configured for hands-free use.

California Court Bans Checking Smartphone Maps While Driving (Techcrunch)
MapQuest 3.0: Up-Close Mobile App Inspection Undercover: Texting While Driving Rampant



My phone's GPS is 10X better than my previous Garmin and TomTom GPSs.

So my phone's GPS is distracting and my Garmin isn't?

These judges are idiots!


A clock? So I can't even look at the phone to see the time now without committing a crime?


So if the phone is securely mounted in the same location you would mount a GPS, and a NAV app is running, it's distracting? More distracting than a NAV device which looks identical but has out of date maps, and doesn't provide traffic info?

This sounds like legislation sponsored by car manufacturers who charge $3000+ for the built in systems to me. I just bought a new car and did NOT get the built in NAV because my phone's NAV apps are so much better.


Oh, and is the clock that's built into the car illegal to look at too?


BTW I couldn't find any article about this at Techcrunch, but did find an article on InfoWeek, which specifically targets the devices when handheld, which makes sense.


This article is not complete, In the complete article it states that if the phone is mounted securely then it can be used as navigation. If one needs to look for alternate route, one must stop/pull over and then change the route. ( While the court clearly rules against drivers attempting to hold a smartphone in their hands, the phone can be viewed while driving assuming the driver keeps their hands away from it.For instance, a Los Angeles resident can still use a mapping program like Google Maps to get around the city, but they will need to mount the phone somewhere on the dash in order to view the GPS directions while driving. If a California driver needs to make an alteration to a route during the trip, they will need to bring the car to a complete stop before altering the details in the mapping program on their smartphone.

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Seems a little over the top, I'll wait to see the data they collect to judge though.


[Sarcasm]Next we have laws that prevent us to adjust the fan speed, open the windows, close the moonroof shade, and windshield wipers because they are distracting...[/sarcasm]


On the surface, the CA law appears to make sense. For example, like most in-car Nav systems, you can't make route changes and etc unless you bring the car to a complete stop.

A few nav Apps already include such as a selectable feature.


Take a look at who is really driving the legislation on this - tech and auto industry lobbyists to force a requirement to purchase technology upgrades for voice-activated GPS units -- very similar to how they drove legislation to create a large market demand for 'hands-free' talking tech, then again for 'hands-free' texting (voice recognition) tech, and now the GPS upgrade demand. Gov is intruding far into micro-managing our lives and our spending! It was quite adequate for the law to say 'reckless driving is forbidden' and let a judge or jury decide individual instances that are debateable.


Good to see California Democrats really providing a lot of value to their constituents. While the state slips further into financial disarray they're preoccupied with passing little minion laws. Excellent job!


Apparently, you are five times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash because you were “lost in thought” than if you were distracted by the use of some electronic device, according to new research by the Erie Insurance Group.

I know phones can be a distraction, but come on. I have a place to put my phone and I am in no danger. They probably want to say GPS causes cancer as well.


Smells like a little lobby from standalone GPS manufacturers...

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