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Friday July 11, 2014 2:12 pm

NHTSA looking into legality of smartphone maps while driving


nhtsa smartphone maps

Laws on the books to stop texting or talking on a cell phone while driving are nothing new, in fact I know a guy who just got slammed with five points on his license for doing it. But laws regarding cell phone use while driving leave a gray area, GPS and map aids, programs not within the spirit of the laws when they were made and an uncertainty for courts.

The government is looking to change that.

The Transportation Department has asked congress to give them the ability to regulate map aids and devices as part of their ongoing battle with 'distracted driving.' The measure is part of the GROW AMERICA proposed transportation bill, and would give the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration free reign to set restriction and limits on apps and down the line demand changed to any it deems dangerous.

What does this mean in a practical sense? Apps for maps might start to look like the built in GPS system in your car, where some models make you press a button acknowledging that you will not set the device while the car is moving. It might mean that telling the court you were just checking your map won't get you off.

The measure has support from automakers who have already built those safeguards into their GPS devices. Regulatory agencies maintain that they already have the authority to regulate these apps as vehicle equipment, and only want it written into law.

That means they don't have the authority or they would not be demanding it from congress.


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