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Automotive Features

In-car navigation: an invaluable feature or a distraction too far?

Mobile phone mapping hit the news recently, when a state appeals court in California ruled that drivers can legally read a map on their smartphones while behind the wheel.

distracted1 

The ruling came off the back of a case involving Steven Springs, who was ticketed in 2012 for looking at a mobile phone map while sat in traffic. Following two failed appeals, Springs took his case to the appellate court, and this time the ticket was overturned.

During the failed appeals, the court ruled that hands-on use of a mobile phone is against the state law, even if it’s just to check directions on a map. With authorities cracking down on the use of smartphones while driving, the latest ruling could set a huge precedent.

The topic of mobile phones in cars is hugely divisive, and something we could debate all day long. While millions will rejoice a step towards a relaxation of the regulations around mobile phone navigation, especially when a vehicle is static, it’s easy to see plenty of people will disagree with the decision.

There are considerable risks attached to using a smartphone in your car, as Peter Skillman explained in his SxSW talk a couple of weeks ago. And we must endorse the existing legislation on this topic - that's one reason HERE Drive is optimized for arm-length use and we've made car-holders for Lumia smartphones available.

And for lots of us, the temptation to reach out and text a friend, update your status on Facebook or take a selfie on Instagram while we’re stuck in traffic is just too much. If that sounds like you, and you’d prefer to tear yourself away from your phone completely, redthumbreminder.com has an ingenious solution. Check out the video below:

Making mapping safer

We think that people want to stay connected while they’re in the car, however, which is why we’re working hard to make things safer than ever. If we can create a holistic driving experience, where cars and smartphones can talk to each other or systems are already embedded, and where the experience is as intuitive as possible, there’s no reason people can’t stay connected while keeping distractions to a minimum.

After all, as Pino explains in a post on Driving safely while staying connected:

“We think that the risk isn’t coming from the information per se, but how we present information to people and enable them to use it.”

That means a simpler, less cluttered interfaces with big buttons, along with voice commands that are clear and easy to understand. With integrated in-car systems, more accurate map data including road height, slope and curvature enables more intelligent cruise control, adaptive front lights, curve speed warnings and other driver alerts, highlighting the fact in-car mapping can actually make our daily journeys safer.

We’d love to hear you opinions though; under what conditions do you use HERE Drive or your in-car navigation? Do you agree that it should be legal to use maps on phones while behind the wheel, or should we paint our thumbs red and stick 100 per cent to the task in hand?

image credit: Bob Jagendorf

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