So you may or may not know this, but the US Transportation Department believes that it has the authority to regulate the traffic and navigation applications that you use on your smartphone, and is now pushing hard to get Congress to agree.
A new proposed transportation bill will give the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration the right to “set restrictions on the apps and later order changes if they are deemed dangerous.”
Naturally, tech companies and app developers are not too happy with this proposition and argue that this type of practice would greatly hinder app development and would be ridiculously difficult to put into effect.
Proponents of the bill assure that there are no intentions to impede application development; just that the Traffic Safety Administration should be able to legally enforce changes to applications that are found to be dangerous for use on the road. Now before you get up in arms, there haven’t been any plans from the US Transportation Department to enforce any of these rules just yet.
But this could be potentially bad news for mobile navigation applications like Google Maps, Nokia Maps, Waze, and other map software. Since these apps are deemed “map aids” they might share the same scrutiny and restrictions that in-car GPS units are under. Some models don’t allow users to fiddle around with their in-car GPS units as they are driving, and bypass this annoyance entirely by whipping out their cell phones. Some may see this as more dangerous, as looking at a large screen that is closer to eye level of the windshield is probably more safe than looking down at a cell phone while you drive.
This brings about a very interesting question: is the use of navigation applications akin to texting while driving? If it is deemed so by Congress, then using navigation applications while on the road may soon become illegal in the US.