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Can you use your phone and sat nav while driving in UK

What are the UK laws when it comes to using your phone while driving? Can you use your phone as a sat nav? Where can you legally place your sat nav in your car while driving? Get your answers.

Is it illegal to use your phone while driving?

Since April 2021, using your mobile phone or any other handheld device for any purpose while driving has become a punishable offence.
Not only is using your mobile phone is illegal, but even holding it while driving can land you a penalty. According to the latest regulations, you can be fined if you’re caught: • Holding your mobile phone • Talking or texting on your phone • Taking a photo or video while driving • Playing games or using any app on your phone • Holding your phone to look for directions These rules on using your mobile phone while driving apply even if your car is stationary at a red light or in traffic, as well as for those supervising a learner driver. So, any form of mobile use while your car’s engine is running can land you in legal trouble. The only time you’re allowed to use your phone while driving is when you have hands-free access to a device. You can legally use your phone while driving only in certain situations: • When your car is safely parked • If you’re a passenger in the car (provided it doesn’t distract the driver) • If you’re using a hands-free device • To call 999 or 112 in case of a genuine emergency where it’s not safe to stop your car • To make contactless payments at a drive-thru when your vehicle is stationary, and the goods or services are ready for immediate collection

Is it illegal to use a hands-free phone when driving?

While it’s illegal to use a handheld device while driving, you’re legally allowed to use a hands-free device provided it’s been fully set up before you start driving.
You can set up hands-free access using: • Bluetooth – you can sync your phone using Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, MirrorLink or, if your car isn’t compatible with these, simply pair you’re phone with the infotainment system • Car phone holder – these can either be a suction-cup or an adhesive mount with cradles to hold your phone in place and can usually be placed on the windshield, dashboard, CD slots or the air vents With a hands-free device, you can use your phone’s speaker to talk on a call. Most smartphones come with voice command technology and a sat nav such as Google Maps or City Mapper that you can access hands-free with the help of Bluetooth or a phone holder. However, remember, the police still have the power to stop you if you get too distracted with the hands-free device.

Tips for using a hands-free device while driving:

If you have to use a hands-free device while driving, Gov.uk suggests that “The device must not block your view of the road and traffic ahead” so make sure the device is placed safely in your car for a clear view of the road.
The rules also state that “The police can stop you if they think you’re not in control because you’re distracted and you can be prosecuted” so avoid using your device at all if it’s distracting you. And finally, buying a phone holder that’s the right size and fits your mobile phone may help in ensuring that your phone’s sturdy. You can get three penalty points if your view of the road and traffic is obstructed, so you must place your hands-free device carefully. Related: How to connect your phone with Bluetooth in your car

What is the fine and how many points can you get for using your mobile phone while driving?

You can get a £200 fine and six penalty points endorsed to your driving licence under CU80 endorsement code for using or even holding your mobile phone while driving or supervising a learner driver.
New drivers are only allowed up to six-point driving offences, so if you’ve passed your driving test in the past two years and you get caught using your phone, your licence will get cancelled (revoked). If the police feel you were being extremely dangerous, such as driving under influence or speeding excessively, you can be taken to court and face getting: • banned from driving or riding for at least two years • fined a maximum of £1,000 or £2,500 if you’re a lorry or bus driver Remember: • Even if you use hands-free devices, the police can stop you if they think you’re distracted while driving • You’ll be fined for using your phone even if when your car is stopped at a red light or in traffic • If your car’s engine is running or stopped because of the start-stop feature, it’s illegal to use or hold your phone Related: Why you shouldn’t use your phone while driving

Can you use your phone as a sat nav while driving?

It’s illegal to use your mobile phone for anything, including looking for directions on a sat nav while driving.
The only legal way of using your phone as a sat nav is if you have hands-free access to your phone. To use your phone as a sat nav, you should either connect it to Bluetooth and use voice command to ask for directions or set your phone on a phone mount to get directions. Remember, you must set up your phone and enter the location you want to go to before you start driving. If your car has an in-built sat nav, it can be useful to just use that rather than going through the hassle of setting up your phone. Related: Finding the best sat nav for your truck

Tips for placing your phone on the windscreen to use sat nav:

• Before setting your phone up, adjust your seat and mirrors so you can fix your phone accordingly
• Fix your phone at the bottom left or right of the windscreen so that most of the windscreen is clear of obstructions • Avoid placing your phone up high on the windscreen as any wires attached to your phone can interfere while driving • Don’t place your phone in front of or above any airbag zone on the dashboard • Make sure that your phone’s fixed properly in the mount as otherwise, your phone may fall during any bumps • Make sure the phone isn’t obstructing your view of the road ahead Remember, you can be fined even if you’re touching your phone to find the right route, so make sure you put the location in before your start driving. According to rule 150 of the Highway Code, “you must exercise proper control of your vehicle at all times”, so the police can stop and fine you £1,000 along with three penalty points if you’re distracted while looking at your mobile screen for directions. If you’re using sat nav for the first time or are not confident in using it, try and drive with another passenger so that they can guide you. Related: How to be a better driver or cyclist
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