We have just received an email from the press secretary to Steven Joyce, Minister of Transport, in response to an email we sent to Andrew Knackstedt of the NZ Transport Agency this morning. In it, we have received confirmation that the Road User Amendment Rules 2009 is to be amended to allow the continued use of GPS Navigation apps in mobiles phones.
In our email to Mr Knackstedt this morning we posed the following questions:
1) Why does the ministry consider that using good quality turn-by-turn GPS navigation aids on a mobile device such as an iPhone represents more of a hazard than a dedicated GPS unit such as a TomTom, Navman etc. despite their implementation and use being almost exactly identical?
2) Is there evidence to support this belief by way of investigations / studies / reports? What research has the government done prior to the introduction of this particular facet of the legislation?
3) Why has the government continued to allow the sale of devices with this functionality built-in, and the sale of add-on applications specifically for this purpose despite intending to ban their use?
4) Does the government plan to ban the sale / purchase of such software going forward and if not why not? Surely consumers and businesses need to be protected?
5) It would appear to me that this software becomes illegal as a result of sloppy wording in the legislation rather than a direct and intentional ban of this technology. If this is the case, can the wording of the law be reviewed to exempt the use of navigation aids?
The email was passed on to the Ministry of Transport’s press secretary who has replied with the following:
Your enquiry has been onpassed to 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.
I hope that helps.
Office of Hon Steven Joyce
Minister of Transport
Minister for Communications and Information Technology
Associate Minister of Finance
Associate Minister for Infrastructure
This is fantastic news – it’s great that the minister acted so quickly and that common sense has prevailed. We’d like to thank everyone that took the time to sign our petition this morning.
And now that the coast is clear… get entering our competition to win a free copy of Sygic Mobile Maps 2009!