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Is it legal to use a phone sat nav? Read our guide!


Is it legal to use a phone sat nav? Read our guide!

If you’re anything like me you don’t leave home without a sat nav – not just for directions but traffic alerts on routes you know – what on earth did we ever do without them? 

However, are you using your sat nav within the parameters of the law? 

Here’s what we know. 

It's not illegal to have a satellite navigation system placed on your windscreen. HOWEVER placing it on certain sections of your windscreen could be seen as a breach of the highway code.

The Highway Code states that "windscreens and windows MUST be kept clean and free from obstructions to vision".

So does having a sat nav mounted on your windscreen cause an obstruction and would the police see this as a breach of the law?

Not necessarily because not all rules are legal obligations.

Sounds confusing? It is – our advice would be to buy a sat nav or phone holder (if you use Google Maps from your smart phone for example) that can be inserted into your air vent.

The Highway Code does warns of the dangers of becoming distracted by a sat-nav.

"You MUST exercise proper control of your vehicle at all times. Do not rely on driver assistance systems such as cruise control or lane departure warnings. They are available to assist but you should not reduce your concentration levels.

"Do not be distracted by maps or screen-based information (such as navigation or vehicle management systems) while driving or riding. If necessary find a safe place to stop."

In short, don’t amend your route while driving – pull over somewhere safe and amend your route then. 

Here’s a few tips on using your sat nav safely. 

1. The sat nav is telling you where to go but remember it’s not driving for you!

You can't blame the satnav if you commit an offence or have an accident. It's your fault.

2. Trust yourself more than where the sat nav is telling you to go. 

Is there a river or field ahead? Is your sat nav telling you to keep driving…..DON’T!!!! If the route looks unsafe or isn’t a road!! Don’t keep driving.

3. You know the size of your car, the sat nav doesn’t. 

If you have a large car or are towing a caravan or trailer you must be aware of road signs and not rely on the sat nav to tell you where you can safely drive! 

4. Don't block your view of the road

The satnav should be in your line of sight so you don’t have to look away from the road when checking your route but it must not block your view of the road. Use the spoken notifications to help you to navigate without looking at it too often. 

5. Don't programme the satnav while driving

Give yourself time before you set off to programme your destination and if you need to amend it en route, pull over safely to do so. 

6. Check your route before you go

Don’t just enter your destination and set off. Have a quick check through the directions and make sure it all looks correct. It’s wise to have a rough idea of where you’re going so that if you lose service (if using a mobile device) or battery or your sat nav breaks en route you’re not entirely stranded.

7. Update your satnav 

It needs to know about new roads, new traffic systems and generally keep itself up to date.


Check out our blog for more driving tips and advice.


© 2019 OVL Group Ltd