TIME Transportation

The Government Wants to Regulate How You Use Google Maps

In your car at least

The U.S. Department of Transportation is taking aim at the way drivers use navigation tools such as Google Maps. A proposed bill would grant the National Highway Safety Administration the right to issue guidelines on the functionality of navigation apps that could potentially be a threat to driver safety and force changes to apps that don’t comply with the guidelines, the New York Times reports.

The Department of Transportation has been grappling with the increased use of technology in the car for the last several years. In 2013 the agency issued guidelines on the use of in-car navigation systems, advising that no task on the devices should require more than a two-second glance and 12 seconds total to accomplish. The newly proposed bill, though, would also apply to smartphone apps, like the popular maps software Google and Apple develop. Such apps currently reside in a murky area when it comes to laws that ban calling and texting while driving. A California man faced a $165 fine for using his phone as a navigation aid because other uses of a phone, such as talking while driving, are banned in the state. An appeals court later overturned the decision, according to the Times.

Critics of the proposed measure say it would be impractical for the government to monitor the vast number of navigation apps and whether people are using them while driving or not. But with injuries from car accidents involving a distracted driver on the rise, it’s likely the National Highway Safety Administration will continue to seek ways to regulate the ways people use electronics while behind the wheel. The bill, a wide-ranging piece of legislation regarding transportation, is expected to pass in Congress in some form by the end of the year.


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