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Tech Report: Navigation On Cellphones May Violate Calif. Hands-Free Law

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Apple iPhone 5. (CBS News)

Apple iPhone 5. (CBS News)

LarryMagid01-228 Larry Magid
Larry Magid is a technology journalist and an Internet safe...
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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — As part of the Distracted Driving Awareness Month campaign, Californians are being warned that they will be ticketed for talking or texting on their cellphones while driving.

Now, a court in Fresno has ruled that the law making cellphone use illegal while driving also applies to hand-held navigation devices. However, the ruling won’t apply outside of Fresno unless a higher court affirms their decision.

But phone apps with GPS and other navigational tools appear to be here to stay. What I do is I have my iPhone velcroed to my dashboard. I tested all sorts of mounting systems and devices, but found that a simple 25-cent square of Velcro and adhesive does the trick perfectly.

I try to configure it before I leave the house or before I begin driving.

The case an interesting issue because I don’t think it’s illegal to use traditional GPS systems in the car where you definitely have to touch it to operate it. Not to mention, the GPS system built in to my car is much harder to use than an Android or iPhone.

I do find it a bit ironic where a phone, where in theory, you could talk into it or use its voice activation, might be against the law. But the traditional GPS, as far as I know, isn’t covered by that law.

I think Apple’s Siri does a very good job of figuring out where I want to go and mapping it out with Apple Maps. Again, by simply touching the phone, that’s against the law under the Fresno court’s decision.

However, I would argue that that’s reasonably safe as long as you’re not taking your eyes off the road and focused on your driving. Ultimately I’m not here for legal advice, but for technology advice.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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