Sunday, March 18, 2012

New CA Driving Law Requires Phones to be Mounted


It’s now illegal to use an unmounted phone for GPS in California. Just don’t mount it like this.

As you probably know, I prefer automotive GPS devices over using a cell phone when you’re navigating in the car. Not only do auto GPS devices tend to function better (as that’s their one and only purpose) but it’s just overall safer. Using a phone for navigation can be distracting, but it is convenient, so I kind of get it. But here’s the problem: how do you tell who is staring at the phone reading a map and who is staring at a text (or god forbid, texting back) instead of watching the road? And, is there really that much of a difference in attention?

A new California law says no. You might remember a few years ago that California made it illegal to hold your phone while operating a vehicle, and there are multiple other laws for talking and texting in a car. GPS, however, was sort of a loophole to this, and many people were pulled over, only to claim that they were using Google Maps on their device. However, a new law states that as of 2017, phones must be mounted to be used for GPS.

The law, obviously, only applies in California and phone mounts must adhere to the same windshield restrictions as regular GPS devices. I couldn’t find the exact wording for the new phone mounting law, but you can read the full text of the law in regards to mounting devices on a windshield here.  I’ve pulled out the relevant bits below:

(1) A person shall not drive any motor vehicle with any object or material placed, displayed, installed, affixed, or applied upon the windshield or side or rear windows.

(12) A portable Global Positioning System (GPS), which may be mounted in a seven-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield farthest removed from the driver or in a five-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield nearest to the driver and outside of an airbag deployment zone, if the system is used only for door-to-door navigation while the motor vehicle is being operated.

According to CBS, the law went into effect on Jan. 1, 2017 and anyone found guilty of operating a phone while driving will get a $20 fine on the first offense, and a $50 for the second. It’s unclear what would happen after the second offense and, personally, I feel like if the law is really going to be a useful one, the fine should probably be upped, though, as $20 really isn’t much of a deterrent.

Of course, unlike the more recent Rhode Island ruling, I think is probably a better alternative to help keep people safe and keep them from getting lost.

What do you think? Leave me a note below!


  1. geocacher says:

    The entire car is an electronic device, so distractions of many types–controls, displays, warnings–are constant, not to mention food, children and entertainment systems. The law seems to deal only with handheld devices which is fine but there is so much more to distracted driving. And what are we to make of in-dash displays that require interaction? Many of these now integrate with our mobile devices, further confusing the situation.

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