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Using a Sat-Nav when Driving

The recent announcement by government transport minister, Andrew Jones about the upcoming changes to the practical driving test has focussed minds on the legal and safe use of satellite navigation technology when driving.

The minister stated that the independent driving part of the test would be increased from 10 to 20 minutes. Until the new test is introduced in December 2017 test candidates will continue to follow either route directions using road signs or a route shown on a diagram presented by the examiner.

From 4th December 2017 the examiner will produce a sat nav with a pre-programmed route for the candidate to follow for around 20 minutes. This will allow for a better assessment of driving independently on high-risk roads.

RAC Foundation Director, Steve Gooding said, “It’s right that the driving test evolves, just as the cars we drive are changing to incorporate more driver assisted technology such as inbuilt sat nav systems”.

What are the rules?

The Highway Code is clear about advice on the positioning of phones and sat navs. It states, “windscreens must be clear and free from obstructions to vision”.

You can use a mobile phone as a sat nav if on a blue tooth headset and it is in a cradle dashboard holder. Don’t re-programme it on route as it is a massive distraction and against the law. Even touching your phone or sat nav when driving, for instance to receive information about a faster route, is an offence.

Ideally, the screen should be turned off and the sat nav switched to spoken instructions only. If you have to look at it, the sat nav should be positioned within your line of sight.
The government is keen to harness the advantages of modern technology to help us keep safe when driving. Knowing the law and applying some simple and sensible advice will help with route planning when using phones and sat navs.

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