Are GPS Systems a Distraction for Drivers?
Handheld Cellphone Use is Illegal, but GPS Devices are Fine
According to new driving laws in California, cell phones must remain mounted to vehicle dashboards and be enabled for hands-free or voice command. This is an effort to eliminate distracted driving. Systems that are embedded in the vehicle and installed by the manufacturer are exempted from the new law.
Ironically, GPS navigation system sales have been increasing. These GPS systems may cause as much a distraction for drivers as the use of a cellphone.
What Exactly Does the New Law Cover?
In the past, California law prohibited talking and texting while driving but didn’t restrict GPS use. The new distracted driving law took effect on January 1, 2017.
The law now prohibits driving while operating a handheld wireless communication device. So, if you can operate your GPS without using your hands, you shouldn’t have a problem.
The new legislation also contains an exception for turning on or off a GPS device as long as it takes only one tap or swipe to do so and the GPS is mounted.
Manufacturer-Installed Navigation Systems That are Embedded
California’s restriction on using a wireless device doesn’t apply to “manufacturer-installed systems that are embedded in the vehicle.”
While navigation systems help drivers reach their destination, or parents keep track of their teenage drivers, does the use of GPS lead to distracted driving?
Navigation systems can take a driver’s focus off the road and often drivers program the system while driving.
Safety Tips for Using Navigation Systems
Here are some steps you can take to avoid the distraction of navigation systems:
- Program your GPS before you start driving.
- Ask for help from passengers in your vehicle: If you must change your route or use the system to find a fuel station or restaurant on your route ask a passenger in your car to do so, or pull over
- Do not mute your GPS device: While driving, keep voice commands on your device turned on to avoid glancing at the screen
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than nine people are killed and more than 1,153 are injured every day due to “distracted driving.”
If you were injured in a car accident or as a pedestrian due to distracted driving, 1-800-THE-LAW is ready to connect you with experienced legal help.