Is it illegal to use your phone as a sat nav?

Since March 2017, drivers caught using their phones by hand whilst driving have faced stiffer penalties – six points and a £200 fine. Drivers who passed within the past two years can expect to lose their licence.

But does that apply to using your phone as a sat nav? The short answer is yes – even if you have the phone docked, you’re technically not allowed to make adjustments to your route whilst driving or even whilst queuing in stationary traffic.

If you need to use your phone as a sat nav, then you need to make sure you don’t need to touch it for the duration of the journey. (NB: The AA advises that if you need to make a single button press – such as pressing ‘yes’ to accept a revised route, then that is usually ok. However, if you do need to make any inputs or adjustments, then pull over safely – off the road, into a parking space – to do so.)

Using speech to operate sat nav

If your phone allows it, you are permitted to use speech commands to operate your phone’s sat nav, but the same rules apply to as if you were having a hands-free conversation – you must still remain in complete control. Drivers can be prosecuted for ‘not being in proper control’ of their vehicle, and can face a three point penalty and a £100 fine, rising to £1,000 if the matter goes to court.

Where to keep your phone whilst driving

Buy a proper cradle for your phone. Many people use the type that attaches to the windscreen. If you buy one of these, make sure it does not obscure your view. Or, consider buying a cradle that attaches to the air vents, which will keep the phone in  apposition you can see without blocking your view. If you really can’t resist using it, then put it in the glovebox out of the reach of temptation!