Stupid differentiation

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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