Stupid differentiation

September 28th, 2009 at 5:12 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

The Transport Ministry has clarified the terms of a new law that restricts the use of cellphones in cars, saying that from November it will be illegal to use a mobile phone as a satellite navigation aid while driving.

Now if that means illegal to look at it, if it is on the seat next to you, fair enough probably, but …

Under the new law, that would be illegal, Transport Ministry spokesman John Summers confirmed. “The Road User Amendment Rule 2009 means drivers will not be able to look at a navigation aid on a mobile phone when driving, even if it is mounted on the dashboard.

Now that is just plain daft. The Government is going to ban you using your phone as a navigation device – even if placed correctly in front of you on the dashboard!

The restriction does not apply to navigation systems that do not have a mobile phone function, he says.

How stupid is that? I mean how do you justify the differentiation on public policy grounds? You can have a near identical device mounted on the dashboard, giving you navigation advice, and it is illegal if the device also has mobile phone capability.

Properly functioning systems make the roads safer. You don’t even have to look at them very often as they give oral directions also.

I can understand the rationale to discourage people using a cellphone to navigate if the phone is not mounted on the dashboard. But it really is bonkers to ban it, if it is mounted.

UPDATE: A reader points out it is even more stupid than I realise.

The situation in your blog post is even more ridiculous than you blogged.  Many satnav systems are now coming out with bluetooth capability that turns them into a handsfree device.  So it will be legal to watch your satnav system and use it as a handsfree device, but it will be illegal to use your iphone in handsfree while using it as a satnav device.
I think the Minister needs to knock some heads together in the bureaucracy.
UPDATE: And the Minister has done so. His office has informed me:

The Road User Amendment Rule that contains restrictions on cell phone use is designed to discourage motorists from talking on their hand held cell phones or texting while driving.  Voice calling is permitted, provided the phone is in a mounted hands-free device,

It is not the intent of the rule to make it illegal for motorists to use the satellite navigation or music functions of their cell phones, provided these are mounted in the vehicle and are manipulated infrequently.

It is also not intended to discriminate against one kind of satellite navigation device or another.  However, with all of these devices it is important to set them up while the vehicle is stationary as they are all potential distractions in a moving vehicle.

The Minister this afternoon met with officials and instructed them to amend the rule accordingly.

Excellent. Good to see a quick and decisive response to over-reaching by officials.

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21 Responses to “Stupid differentiation”

  1. village idiot (748 comments) says:

    Top bit of banning Joyce, wonder boy!
    Naturally, he’ll step in to set the anomoly right and we’ll sing his praises.
    Kind’a patchy though, ain’t it, like so much of the legislation that comes spurting out of this government.

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  2. menace (407 comments) says:

    Clearly our dictators run away on us once they are vote in….

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  3. Nigel (511 comments) says:

    This is totally illogical, surely a cell phone with bluetooth headset operating as a GOS is no more dangerous than two seperate devices & quite likely safer as they have integrated audio.

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  4. ross (1,454 comments) says:

    Does that mean that drivers shouldn’t look at the speedo in case it might, um, distract them from the job at hand? :)

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  5. village idiot (748 comments) says:

    Or worse, a driver in a Speedo! Talk about distracting!

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  6. mickysavage (786 comments) says:

    Bloody nanny state.

    Time for a change of Government!

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  7. Chris Doms (73 comments) says:

    Wait, so the government is now telling me that I cant LOOK at my phone while driving if it’s being used as a anvigation aide? How exactly do they police this? If a cop sees me glance down, does he pull me over and ticket me? But changing radio stations isn’t illegal, so I’m not sure how they distinguish that.

    This law is an absurdity of the highest order.

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  8. labrator (1,750 comments) says:

    The only reason for this is so when cops pull you over, you can’t say “I was using the GPS function”. Otherwise it will basically tank the new law as so many new phones utilise GPS.

    Which means the whole principal is stupid and this sticky plaster repair just shows what a failure of a law it already is before it’s even been passed. If you’re driving dangerously because you were impaired, whether through alcohol, doing your makeup, changing the radio or answering a text then we already have laws for that which need to be enforced. Not absolute tripe like this.

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  9. Patrick Starr (3,675 comments) says:

    “Time for a change of Government!”

    quite right mickey – voters probably didnt get the change they hoped for

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  10. Manolo (13,386 comments) says:

    Don’t forget the National Party supports individual responsibility and freedom, yeah right!

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  11. Sonny Blount (1,845 comments) says:

    Instead of banning stuff and ticketing people, why not make hands free functionality compulsory on all new cars? It’ll get used if it’s there.

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  12. John Ansell (861 comments) says:

    How many socialist parties does one country need really?

    Note to Nats: your party was founded to oppose socialism, not perfect it.

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  13. Put it away (2,888 comments) says:

    It makes a degree of sense if you’re talking about squinting at a tiny mobile screen which is more of a distraction than looking at a decent sized nav display. But if that’s the case it should allow iphones and whatnot with large screens to be used.

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  14. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    those on the right are obviously angst-ing over keys’ colonisation of the centre..

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  15. Fletch (6,028 comments) says:

    That truly is stupid. The iPhone has a couple of good navigation apps, one by TomTom.
    I can see no difference in using a dedicated TomTom and using an iphone with the TomTom app installed.
    The screens aren’t that differently sized.

    You don’t actually have to look at the screen anyway – it has a voice that directs you when to turn on both devices.

    This country really is weird on overcompensating. We’re one of the last to outlaw talking on cellphones, but we go a step too far. Same with smacking.

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  16. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    I’m with Sonny and Fletch, hands free required all cars.
    My phone handsfree cost me $350.

    lately I’ve been thinking about a GPS or Iphone and can’t make up my mind.

    Hows this?
    Domestic violence usually has drunk written all over it so to deal to the very small % who do it, why not ban being drunk.
    its the same as the smacking rationale.

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  17. Bevan (3,965 comments) says:

    Bloody nanny state.

    Time for a change of Government!

    I second that motion! Time for Act to grab the reigns!

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  18. Brian Smaller (3,998 comments) says:

    I too want to know how exactly this is going to be enforced. Will the law spell out what “using” a mobile phone actually mean? Is holding it in your and while driving a hit? . Is listening to the radio on your mobile phone count? Will it be against the law to text, but OK to surf the internet while driving?

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  19. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    This is Stephen Joyce again, the unelected National version of Sue Bradford.

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  20. petal (704 comments) says:

    Hello National Party – this is the sort of pedantic meddling shit we got rid off.

    Or so we thought.

    John, time to yank a chain.

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  21. gander (87 comments) says:

    DPF’s latest update suggests that it’s not the minister at fault here.

    Some heads need to roll, or at least be knocked about, in the ministry.

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