You’ll want to pull over the next time your phone is guiding you to the closest Starbucks or In&Out Burger in California.
A California appellate court has ruled that using the GPS or mapping functionality on a phone is a moving violation, on par with driving while texting. Steven Sriggs, the defendant in the case, was pulled over for using a phone while operating a motor vehicle, but he wasn’t texting or making a call — he was looking at a map.
The court has now ruled that since Spriggs was, as the law states, “using a wireless telephone” and that it wasn’t “configured to all hands-free listening or talking” the action was illegal.
“This case requires us to determine whether using a wireless phone solely for its map application function while driving violates Vehicle Code section 23123. We hold that it does,” the California v. Spriggs court ruling reads.
The court ruled that any activity on the phone that could be distracting to a driver falls under the law. “Our review of the statute’s plain language leads us to conclude that the primary evil sought to be avoided is the distraction the driver faces when using his or her hands to operate the phone,” the ruling reads. “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.”
A National Highway and Traffic Safety Adminstration survey released last week revealed that while many drivers know its dangerous to use electronic devices behind the wheels, many do it anyway. Texting and driving is currently outlawed in 39 states and the District of Columbia. April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.