Rules of the Road: Is it legal to use my maps app while driving?


Question: As a new resident to the beautiful city of Bellingham I tend to find myself lost quite often. So what do I end up doing? I pull out my trusty iPhone and pull up my maps app. There was a Rules of the Road about cellphone use while driving. Is it legal for me to be using my maps app while driving?

Answer: Your iPhone map app is similar to any other GPS navigation unit (Magellan, TomTom, Garmin, etc.). I don't believe it would be illegal to use it for directions, but make sure you are safely stopped off the road before you begin the location search. With the small screen size, you might be best served by finding the route while you are stopped and looking at it before you begin driving again. Looking down at the screen while driving can be very dangerous to you as well as all around you.

Q: I have seen on several occasions cars without a disabled parking placard parked in a space designated for disabled parking. Other than leaving a note reminding the driver not to park there, is there anything else I can do?

A: Members of the Retired Senior Volunteers Program for the Bellingham Police do a pretty good job of patrolling the disabled parking areas in the city. If you really feel the need, you can call in a parking complaint to see if there is a parking enforcement person able to respond. I am going to have to assume that by not seeing a placard, you also have looked to see if they have the disabled parking license plate or not.


Rules of the Road is an online forum with questions and answers on road laws, safe driving habits and general police practices. To ask a question, use this form.

David Wright is a retired officer from the Bellingham Police Department who is now on the Whatcom County Traffic Safety Task Force.

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