The recent instance of a motorist being fined by a traffic policeman for giving a voice command on his cellphone-based GPS navigator has highlighted the confusion among traffic cops and motorists on the use of new technology.
Chirantan Ghosh was trying to reach the nearest hospital from his office. On his way, came to an intersection at Vikhroli when his GPS app showed the availability of a faster route. He verbally commanded it to take the option. Seeing this, a traffic policeman stopped him for “talking over phone.” He explained the situation, showing his call log and also that his phone was on airplane mode, but in vain. The cops seized Ghosh's driving license and asked him to appear in court.
Motor Vehicle Rules prohibit several uses of phones while driving which includes talking on handheld, hands-free and bluetooth devices, taking photos, messaging, playing games, making videos or listening to music. These rules apply even if the vehicle is struck in traffic jams or at red lights but there is nothing mentioned about use of navigation apps or devices.
“Using GPS is not a violation of traffic norms but a driver is not permitted to give voice commands during a journey.” said traffic police official.
However, Pratap Dighavkar, deputy commissioner of police (traffic) said, “One can use a cellphone navigator before starting the vehicle. Still, in (Ghosh's) case, we need to inquire if he was really not talking on the phone and was penalized just for using the navigator.”
Ghosh said it is shocking that at a time when everyone talks of the digital revolution, someone can be penalized just for using a navigation device.