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Government seeks to regulate GPS devices and navigational apps

California’s laws against distracted driving are among the toughest in the nation. Most states have banned texting while driving, but only about a dozen have also banned the use of handheld cellphones behind the wheel.

It is important to note, however, that texting and talking are not the only two distractions caused by these small electronic devices. Many drivers use the GPS navigational aids on their cellphones while the car is in motion. This could just as easily cause a car accident and it certainly looks like distracted driving, but it is not explicitly banned under California law.

Should the use of GPS navigational tools and apps be regulated? The Obama administration believes it should. The president’s new transportation bill seeks to give direct authority to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to govern how such technology is used in vehicles.

Rather than imposing heavy restrictions on GPS apps for cellphones, some experts believe it would make more sense to incentivize the use of built-in dashboard navigation systems. These generally allow drivers to read or modify GPS data more quickly and with less distraction. App developers are also making it easier to synch smartphones with the vehicle itself.

Despite the dangers of distracted driving, the amount of distracting technology in new cars continues to increase. Hopefully, government regulators will be given the authority to at least minimize the hazards posed by such technology. Even if that happens, it’s important to remember that safe driving is always a personal choice. And we must make the choice to drive distraction-free each time we get behind the wheel.

Source: CBS News, “Can using navigational apps be as dangerous as texting and driving?” June 27, 2014

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