So what’s the difference? Is holding one of those old style, fold out maps while driving better than holding your phone and looking at a map on it? A California court says yes.
A man is fighting over a $160 distracted driving ticket he got for viewing a map on his phone while sitting at a red light. He asked in court if he would have gotten the same ticket for looking at a paper map and was told no, which has set off debates as to whether you can even hold your phone while driving and whether distracted driving laws should be changed. The Santa Maria Times has the story.

Because the statute of limitations has long since run out, I’m going to share a story with you that supports this man’s argument. Years and years ago, a friend and I were trying to navigate I-5 in busy rush hour traffic. We were actually going pretty fast for rushhour and my friend had a paper map spread across the steering wheel, trying to determine what exit we needed. Quicker than he could react, the map was sucked out the open window!

After the some initial swearing, and realizing that we had passed the exit we needed, we got off the freeway and got back on going the opposite direction to find the correct exit. Right about the spot where the map had blown out, there was a big accident with several cars involved in a chain reaction pileup. I don’t know for sure that the map caused it, but sometimes I suspect it landed on someone’s windshield, causing them to drive into the person in front of them.

So, long story short, in my experience, a paper map isn’t necessarily a safer option than looking at your phone. Although I don’t endorse either option of course. And yes, I still feel guilty about the whole thing, warranted or not.

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