California bans using hands-on GPS while driving

Text messaging while driving is quickly making its way into law books across the US, and so is even talking on your phone. However, that leaves a bit of a gray area as far as using maps and GPS on your smartphone, but the State of California has cleared up the confusion and officially made it a law that you can't use the GPS function on your smartphone unless it's hands-free.

The California appeals court ruling essentially states that using your phone in any way while driving will get you a ticket, even if you're trying to look up where your old friend lives. Of course, the problem doesn't exactly lie with using GPS while driving, but using GPS to look down at your phone to type in an address to scroll through a map.

You can still use your phone while driving, but it must be completely hands-free, meaning that you have to hook it up via Bluetooth and use voice control to navigate through your phone. Of course, a recent study determined that even hands-free use of a phone is still dangerous, since your brain still focuses its attention on the phone, rather than on the road.

However, there are a lot of loopholes in the new law. For instance, many newer cars come with navigation systems built into the dashboard, and many of them are completely touch-controlled, which means it's essentially the same thing as using the GPS on your smartphone, only it's built into the car. These are still legal, but we're guessing that auto makers will be more aware of creating navigation systems that are more voice-controlled — not only to follow the law, but to actively make driving safer.

[via Techdirt]