But authorities in Australia, in particular the state of Victoria have decided a clamp-down is required.
The Victorian Government road traffic authority VicRoads will introduce a new amendment to the road rules beginning November 9th. From then it will be illegal for drives to navigate using a device that can be used as a phone and a satellite navigation system.
"A phone will only be allowed to be used for its primary purpose," a VicRoads spokeswoman said in a telephone interview with The Age newspaper. "If it's a phone, it's a phone.”
It seems that increasingly as drivers get nabbed by police for using their mobile devices, the excuse that the device was being used as a GPS is becoming commonplace. New South Wales has already stated the practice is an offence in Australia's most populace state.
Too bad if you just outlaid AU$99.99 for your new Navigon or TomTom app for this very purpose.
It is not clear that even mounting the smartphone in a hands free cradle, as traditional portable sat-nav devices can be done, will not be enough to ‘get around’ the new law. Because the primary function of the device is a phone, it is illegal to operate it when in control of a vehicle. [UPDATE] Unlike the New South Wales law, use of a cradle may well be a legal way around the new rule.
Using a mobile phone to make or receive a phone call while driving is prohibited except if the phone:
- is secured in a commercially designed holder fixed to the vehicle,
- can be operated by the driver without touching any part of the phone.
All other functions (including video calls, texting and emailing) are prohibited.
This news also arrives only a couple of weeks after Apple turned on the Show Traffic feature of the in-built Google Maps iPhone application. An app designed for drivers to use the traffic congestion detection feature as a driving aid.