Steve Spriggs was cited for holding his smartphone in his hand using it for navigation while driving. California code 23123 reads, “A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone unless that telephone is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking, and is used in that manner while driving.” Spriggs fought the ticket, saying the law does not apply to looking at maps.
But a judge of the appellate court said holding a phone to look at a map is distracted driving — the same as sending a text message — and the law applies. “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. 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. 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 National Safety Council has noted that there is no research or evidence that indicates voice-activated technologies eliminate or even reduce the distraction to the drivers’ mind.