OpinionOpinion L.A.

Looking at your cellphone while driving should be illegal too

Laws and LegislationCourts and the JudiciaryCrime, Law and JusticeJustice SystemKamala D. Harris

You can't talk or text while driving in California. But if you want to use a map or some other app on your smartphone, that's OK. At least for now.

The 5th District Court of Appeal ruled Thursday that the California Highway Patrol was wrong to ticket a Fresno man for driving and holding his smartphone to look at a map.

The court was totally right. The Vehicle Code says a driver can't hold a wireless telephone while talking or listening on it. The law makes no mention of holding the phone to look at a map or do any other sort of functional thing that smartphones are now capable of. (There is a separate law that specifically bans texting unless using hands-free technology, so typing a text from behind the wheel will still get you a ticket.)

So, looking at a map on your smartphone while driving doesn't violate the law, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea or safe. The driver's eyes and attention are not on the road, and there's often some typing involved with setting the map destination. How is that so different from talking or texting?

The question is: Should legislators develop a law that more broadly bans handling a smartphone while driving? A bill that would encompass using maps or other apps that require typing or looking at the device?

Steven Spriggs, the Fresno man whose $165 ticket for using the map on an iPhone led to the ruling, told the Associated Press that drivers were distracted all the time.

"If our distractions cause us to drive erratically, we should be arrested for driving erratically."

The problem is that there are far too few officers on the roads to pull over every person who drives erratically. But, the fear of an expensive ticket can prevent a lot of erratic behavior before it starts.

Headlines from L.A. to CA:

One of five LAFD recruits in training class are related to department firefighters, Los Angeles Times

Of the 70 recruits now in training, 13 are sons of firefighters and three are nephews, according to LAFD records. A probe is launched.

Gov. Jerry Brown wants polluter fees to help fund high-speed rail, Los Angeles Times

Brown is seeking to annually shift a third of the state's "cap-and-trade" revenue to help build the first leg of the controversial project.

State attorney general moves to preserve concealed-gun limits, San Francisco Chronicle

Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris moved Thursday to preserve California's restrictions on concealed-weapons permits, seeking a rehearing of a federal appeals court ruling that would allow law-abiding citizens throughout the state to carry handguns in public.

Billions would be needed to repair L.A. schools, officials say, Los Angeles Times

Maintaining Los Angeles Unified School District campuses will be difficult because of staffing and funding shortages combined with repair backlogs, aging buildings and more than 100 new schools, officials said Thursday.

Los Angeles could get cushy recycled rubber sidewalks, Curbed LA

Councilman Bob Blumenfield (who's also proposed a return to a public/private cost-sharing sidewalk repair program) has introduced a motion that would have the Bureau of Street Services develop a pilot program exploring cement alternatives for LA's sidewalks, like a mixture of recycled granite and asphalt or recycled rubber tires.

ALSO:

The truth about the great American science shortfall

Want an America that works? Innovate, don't regulate.

Why are U.S. taxpayers funding homophobia in Uganda?

Follow Kerry Cavanaugh on Twitter @kerrycavan and Google+

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
Laws and LegislationCourts and the JudiciaryCrime, Law and JusticeJustice SystemKamala D. Harris
  • No winners in this MTA train wreck
    No winners in this MTA train wreck

    It's hard to find winners in the meltdown that occurred last week at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. A Japanese rail car manufacturing company trying to build a plant in Palmdale announced it was tired of fighting a union-supported environmental challenge and instead would...

  • Garcetti's ambitious goal for L.A.'s water supply
    Garcetti's ambitious goal for L.A.'s water supply

    Spurred by the drought, but planning for long-term sustainability, Mayor Eric Garcetti has set an ambitious and important goal for Los Angeles: to reduce the amount of water it purchases by 50% in 10 years. That's a decade sooner than water managers had anticipated, and it's a big...

  • L.A. City Council should take time to get minimum wage hike right
    L.A. City Council should take time to get minimum wage hike right

    Several Los Angeles City Council members have requested further study of how Mayor Eric Garcetti's $13.25-an-hour minimum wage proposal — and the $15.25 alternative that is also being considered — would affect the local economy, particularly small businesses and nonprofits....

  • Legalize L.A. street vendors
    Legalize L.A. street vendors

    For decades, sidewalk vendors have brought commerce, food and culture to neglected public spaces in Los Angeles. An estimated 10,000 of them roam the city's streets, bringing fresh fruit to neighborhoods with few supermarkets, perfuming street corners with the smell of frying onions and...

  • Busting LAPD's 'ghost car' falsifications
    Busting LAPD's 'ghost car' falsifications

    An Inspector General's report released Friday confirmed what many Los Angeles Police Department insiders have been complaining about for months: Officers have routinely falsified records to make it appear that they were patrolling the streets, when in fact they were doing paperwork,...

  • Raising the minimum wage: Would it help or hurt L.A.?
    Raising the minimum wage: Would it help or hurt L.A.?

    On Labor Day, Mayor Eric Garcetti proposed raising the minimum wage for all workers in Los Angeles, eventually reaching a minimum of $13.25 an hour in 2017. Reactions were immediate. Organized labor applauded the proposal; business groups warned that it would kill jobs. Some City Council...

  • L.A. doesn't need a football team or a fancy convention center
    L.A. doesn't need a football team or a fancy convention center

    Mayor Eric Garcetti says it’s “highly likely” that a National Football League team will move to Los Angeles next year, that the league is “finally interested” in our fair city again. Oh really?

  • Did Occupy L.A. leave a legacy? Just look beyond the City Hall lawn
    Did Occupy L.A. leave a legacy? Just look beyond the City Hall lawn

    Remember this moment? Eric Garcetti (when he was L.A. City Council president) walked out to the lawn in front of City Hall and proclaimed to a sea of tent dwellers: “Stay as long as you need, we’re here to support you.”

Comments
Loading