THROWBACK THURSDAY: California says you can’t GPS while driving

Ah, California. It seems particularly apropos to say that California grows the most nuts of any state in the union. I mean walnuts, cashews, that sort of thing. Right? Well, decide for yourself.

About three years ago, I wrote this piece saying that California had made it illegal to actually operate a GPS app in your phone while driving. Since then, our west coast team has reported that… people still touch their phones. It’s a purely nuisance law and while we haven’t done an exhaustive study, we’ve yet to run into anyone who actually got a ticket for doing this.

Unfortunately, this “Throwback” has come back, and in a big way. Last month the kookiest state in the union passed a law that bans virtually all cell phone use while driving. Pretty much the only thing you can do is answer the phone using a Bluetooth device. While not explicitly stated, I imagine you could also use your phone’s voice assistant, assuming your car is smart enough to let you do that through Bluetooth. Many newer cars have a dedicated button for the voice assistant on your phone (Siri, Google Now, Cortana if you’re really hardcore) but many don’t.

California has led the nation in a number of groundbreaking laws, from establishing some of the first freeways and inexpensive state colleges to creating a better environment and encouraging tech growth. This one, though… all I see is a lot of money spent on enforcement with nothing happening. I’ve personally seen a lot of people holding a phone up to their heads while driving, texting while driving, and much worse. Then again I’ve also seen people shave while driving, put on makeup, and — yes really — read books while in slow traffic. The new law doesn’t do much to address that.

Three years from now I’ll do another Throwback Thursday article, and I’m guessing it will come on the heels of a new law that requires you to lock your phone in the trunk while driving. It just wouldn’t surprise me.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.