Eyes on the phone (and not on the road)

It is no secret that texting or talking on the phone while driving will land drivers with a ticket. But with a new rule on the horizon, drivers may now be able to glance at their cell phones as long as it is for maps or directions. In a recent Fresno, CA court case involving a man protesting a ticket for checking his cellphone map, the court ruled in his favor, establishing a new rule to allow drivers to use their cellphone map without risk of a getting a ticket, according to Mercury News.

Santa Monica College Police Department Sergeant Mark Kessler, who has served the college for 27 years, explained that he could not comment on the law until he received the breakdown of the ruling from the District Attorney’s Office of Los Angeles.

He did, however, compare the interpretation of driving laws to how different religious sects translate the Old Testament—some strictly, others loosely.

“Anything can be constituted as distracted driving if it takes your attention off the road,” Kessler said.

He offered examples of distracted driving such as changing a radio station, fixing your hair, or even shooing a fly from your face.

However, since many distractions vary between individual people and situations, not all distractions are citable, according to Kessler.

Being directionally challenged, I often rely on my voice-directed iPhone Maps application to guide me to my intended destination. If I feel I need to change my route or look at the directions more closely, I either pull over or quickly fiddle with my phone at a red light.

While averting my eyes from the road to look at the magical compass in my lap is a risk I am willing to take, I would understand if a cop were to take a moment out of his day to put down his Dunkin’ Donut and write me a ticket.

“For my job and as a driver, I want to go from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ safely,” Kessler said. “I hate seeing people in accidents.”

Should this rule take place, people should be careful not to abuse the privilege. Yes, the rule would give people the opportunity to help themselves when lost, but it does not give drivers the right to go on a texting rampage just to get pulled over and say they were looking for directions.

This can be convenient for drivers, but it can be very harmful if not used responsibly. Too many people are hurt everyday with irresponsible drivers on the loose. This should not be an excuse to continue such reckless action.

It may go against my self-interest to say so, but I admit that I would rather have laws prohibit any type of behavior that takes one’s eyes off the road, including using my precious mobile map, if it means keeping everyone safer as a whole.