The point of all this is that from my perspective, if you are using a handheld anything while driving, there is going to be some element of distraction, and it's a risk. Whether it's an acceptable risk or not might be up for debate, but in at least one recent case, the Vermont Supreme Court found that distracted driving amounted to gross negligence when a driver who was looking at her GPS collided with a cyclist in the breakdown lane. (She hit him from behind, which is actually one of the rare car-cyclist collisions to happen, even though it is one many cyclists fear most.)
|Not a picture of the actual incident.|
I can't find the opinion to read it just yet, but I'm guessing that the court's reliance on the bicyclist being visible means that they were not able to prove that she was looking at the GPS at the time, even though it's most likely that she was. Interestingly enough, a Google search of the distracted driver's name shows that she is working as a legal assistant in a Springfield, Massachusetts law firm, where, according to their website, she specializes in "the firm's car accidents, personal injuries and worker's compensation claims."
Anyway, distracted driving stinks. It has certainly contributed to a number of unsafe driver interactions I've had over the last couple of years, and I'm glad to court found negligence in this case. I hope it serves as a warning to others, who might think about automatically picking up that phone/iPod/Gps/Egg McMuffin the moment they get behind the wheel.