Report and Petition: the New Zealand government are about to make your iPhone GPS illegal

Unsafe? Bollocks.

Unsafe? Bullshit.

According to an article on this morning, the Ministry of Transport’s Road User Amendment Rule 2009 which will become law in November, will outlaw the use of satellite navigation apps on mobile phones, even if it is mounted to the dashboard.

[jump to petition]

The article quotes Transport Ministry spokesman John Summers as saying “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. You can use a mobile phone held in a cradle while driving, but only to make, receive or terminate a phone call. You cannot use them in any other way, such as reading a GPS map, reading email or consulting an electronic diary.”

Want some salt for that wound? While the government is adamant your copy of TomTom or Sygic for iPhone is going to wreck lives and kill people, it is perfectly happy for you to have a dedicated Sat Nav unit. It’s also perfectly happy for you to put a paper map on the passenger seat and have you glance down at that.

We’re pretty fired up about this. There is absolutely zero difference between using a dedicated GPS system and using a properly mounted iPhone (or any other mobile device) with good quality turn-by-turn navigation software. Right now, people are spending hundreds of dollars on navigation apps for a plethora of smartphone platforms in good faith. They’re buying them because it’s safer to have your device verbally tell you where you’re going than it is to struggle with a paper map. They’re buying them because the technology is tried and tested and it’s simply converging several devices into one.

But the New Zealand nanny state knows better than you. It knows better than every country in the world! So what if its good enough for the US, the UK, Australia, Canada… what do those countries know? We’re New Zealand and we know best. Let’s welcome the tourists from those other countries, but then when they get here with their satellite navigation systems which they stupidly bought thinking it would actually make them safer (the fools!), let’s pull them over and ruin their holiday with a big fat fine. Let’s force them to use paper maps and put our own families at risk. Let’s send them home telling their friends and family what a backward nation we are!

Once again our know-it-all government is about to thrust a law onto its citizens that it has ill-researched and ill-written. Yes, Eric Hertz of 2degrees rear-ended a car because he was using Google Maps on his iPhone. But you know what? Eric Hertz is an idiot if that’s the kind of thing he does. Google Maps isn’t a turn-by-turn navigation aid. Those of us that aren’t idiots have made smart investments in the appropriate software and we’re damned if we’re going to let the government tell us we can’t use them.

Furthermore, we’d like to know exactly what the government are planning to do to stop people from buying these apps from now on. We’re just two months away from this farce becoming law, and NOW they decide to tell us we’re throwing our money away if we buy these apps? Will they re-imburse us? What are they doing to stop more people from falling into this trap? It is irresponsible and immoral to continue to allow people to buy these applications when the government is going to outlaw in just a few weeks time.

So what can we do? We are thinking about that. We intend to be as public with our opposition to this facet of the law and make as much noise about it as possible. In the meantime, please sign our petition (below) and let us know your thoughts.

LINK – Road User Amendment Rule 2009

LINK – Readers, please digg this story to help us raise awareness!


This Petition is now closed as the matter has been resolved. Thanks to everyone who signed (189 Signatures)

You can view a record of the petition here

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  1. Daniel Burgess says:

    @NZRob – What you’re saying about 7.3A is true but the Stuff article has a direct quote from the Transport Ministry and this is what has alerted everyone to the flaw in the law (I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it).

    (Daniel Burgess has made 613 comments)

  2. NZRob says:

    Err… not to throw cold water on the discussion here, but my reading of 7.3A seems at odds to what the Stuff article is claiming.

    “(1) A drivermust not, while driving a vehicle, create, send, or read

    a text message on a mobile phone or make, receive, or terminate

    a telephone call on a mobile phone or use a mobile phone

    in any other way. This subclause is overridden by subclauses

    (2) to (6).

    Reading subclause 5, there may provision for arguing infrequent manipulation:

    A driver may, while driving a vehicle, use a mobile phone to

    make, receive, or terminate a telephone call if—

    “(a) the phone is secured in a mounting fixed to the vehicle;


    “(b) the driver manipulates the phone infrequently and


    Of course, it *specifies* telephone call usage, but this would be the clause to update to allow for other phone functionality. These mobile devices are so converged in terms of capability, it's simply asking for civil disobedience should the clauses pass unchanged.

    (NZRob has made 1 comment)

  3. alopes says:

    How to navigate rules on cellphones in cars (NZ Herald Article by Simon Hendery – 3:59AM Thursday Oct 01, 2009)

    A month before a clampdown on drivers using mobile phones comes into force, Transport Minister Steven Joyce says he will rewrite the rules so motorists can continue to use the satellite navigation functions on their phones while behind the wheel.

    From November 1, drivers caught talking on mobiles that are not connected to a hands-free kit, or mounted to the vehicle, face a fine of $80 and 20 demerit points.

    The Land Transport (Road User) Amendment Rule 2009 also outlaws checking and sending texts and emails while driving.

    A newspaper report this week suggested the rule change would also make it illegal to use the sat-nav services that are part of the capabilities in a growing number of mobiles.

    The report was based on a Transport Ministry spokesman’s interpretation of the rule, which has been signed off by the minister, and which, when read literally, does appear to ban the use of in-phone sat-nav technology while driving.

    Responding to the article, Joyce said it was not the Government’s intention to ban drivers from using the navigation or music functions of their phones, provided the devices are mounted on the vehicle and “are manipulated infrequently”.

    He says the rule will be amended to clarify the point.


    So what’s a cellphone-toting driver to do to stay legal from next month? The simplest solution (apart from turning the device off while in the car) is to buy a wireless connection device.

    The Government’s ban on clutching the phone while behind the wheel has provided a business bonanza for retailers of Bluetooth wireless car kit devices as drivers look for ways to stay legal while staying connected on the road. The kits are often a cheaper and easier option than installing a cradle for mounting a phone.

    I’ve been testing Sony Ericsson’s HCB-105 which, at about $115, is priced in the mid-range of Bluetooth devices. It clips to the driver’s sun visor where it is a simple matter to press a button to connect a call when the mobile rings.

    Linking my two-year-old BlackBerry Pearl to the device was quick and painless, and audio quality is good through its reasonably sized speaker.

    The biggest hassle with these types of devices is remembering to switch them on – with your phone’s Bluetooth connection – before embarking on your journey.

    Failure to do so can create more of a driving hazard than talking on the phone, because when it rings, and you realise you’re not linked up, scrambling to grab the phone obviously defeats the purpose.

    A simple answer is to leave the unit switched on and your phone’s Bluetooth connection active even when you’re not in the car, but this drains the battery on both devices. Better to embrace the Government’s drive towards safer vehicular phone use by getting into the switch-on, switch-off habit as quickly as possible.

    (alopes has made 27 comments)

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