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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

New Transportation Bill Aims At Regulating Use Of Map Apps On The Road

If you've never used a map app like Google Maps or Waze to get directions while driving, you either always know your way around (maybe even arrogantly) or don't drive at all. Whether using such apps while driving is a distraction or not remains a gray area but the fact is that almost everyone has used a navigation app at some point.

Current laws in most states ban the use of cell phones while driving. There are no specific laws that say you can't get directions from a cell phone though. That's where the Department of Transportation wants to come in.

A measure to regulate navigation aids of all types, including smartphone apps, is being proposed in a new transportation bill by the Obama administration. The measure would specify that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has the authority to set restrictions on the apps and later order charges if they are deemed dangerous.

Perhaps not surprisingly enough, the measure has support from automakers, who obviously have to gain if restrictions are put on using apps. Built-in navigation is a feature that maybe dying out due to the recent advancement of smartphone navigation apps. Automakers have to follow guidelines when designing built-in navigation systems and would love to see similar guidelines enforced on app makers.

Apart from navigation apps there are other types of apps that people use while driving. There are no laws against using those at the moment. New laws will come at some point as anything that takes your eyes off the road can be distracting.

The measure proposed by the new bill has issues on how new guidelines will be enforced. Maintaining oversight on app development could well be beyond the scope of the NHTSA. Whether the department has the necessary resources to do so remains to be seen.

As of right now, the department says it has no plans to issue new rules. But that may change in the future.

Source: The New York Times

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