If you use a sat nav app on your phone while driving you could be breaking the law. In addition, as of March 2017, the penalties for doing so have increased. Read on to find out all you need to know about the rules.
The penalties for using your phone while driving, including as a sat nav, are now a £200 fine and six points on your licence. If you’ve been driving for less than two years and are found to be using a mobile phone, you will automatically lose your licence.
This doesn’t mean you can’t use a sat nav app or separate sat nav at all, but it must be hands-free – read on to find out more.
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Is it illegal to use a phone while driving?
Yes, it is illegal to use a mobile phone to do anything while driving a car. This includes if your car is stationary in traffic or at lights, or if you’re supervising a learner driver. Using a hands-free phone is not illegal though, as it means you’re not touching the phone when making calls or using it as a sat nav.
However, keep in mind that if it is deemed that using a hands-free phone has hindered your ability to control your car, you could still be found to be breaking the law.
For more information visit our guide to how to use a sat nav legally and safely.
So can you still use your mobile phone as a sat nav?
Yes, as long as you do not touch the phone and it is properly mounted, you will not be breaking the law.
When it comes to mounting your phone, or standalone sat nav for that matter, you need to make sure that it is in a position where it doesn’t obscure your view. Avoid putting it in the middle of the windscreen and instead place it low down on the side of your windscreen.
Some mounts will allow you to clip them to air vents on the dashboard. These are great for keeping your phone out of your eyeline while driving, but they tend to be less secure.
Should you buy a standalone sat nav or use an app?
The law and potential punishments might seem to make sat nav apps redundant, but they still have some advantages – as long as you stay within the law. As phones have become more powerful and mobile networks more generous with data allowances, apps like Google Maps, Waze and Apple Maps have made satellite navigation cheap, easy and convenient.
Sat nav apps are also easy to update and can offer some advanced features, such as speed-camera detection, for a fraction of the price of a standalone sat nav. However, you’ll need to find a suitable mount (these are normally sold separately) and make sure you have a large enough data allowance to load the maps.
Standalone sat navs, on the other hand, are purpose-built to provide a painless navigation experience. They often have matte screens designed to reduce reflection from the sun or headlights, and they won’t distract you with notifications from calls, texts or social media. Most now have free map updates and they won’t drain your smartphone’s mobile data.
Find out which type of sat nav is right for you – standalone, built-in or sat nav app – in our guide to how to buy the best sat nav.