News Item

Confusion over car satnavs

Even the police are confused over the placing and use of portable satnavs in vehicles.

A UK police force has stated that a portable satnav, or smartphone using a navigation app, may only be placed at the bottom right-hand side of the windscreen - but then they withdrew the statement when it was pointed out that there was no legal basis for it.

This seems to be an example of how the absence of any modern law on driving, mobile phone and satnav use is leaving even police confused - there appears to be no legal guidance as to what constitutes an offence.

The last associated law was introduced in 1988 - before satnavs existed - and relates to ‘handheld’ mobile phones; it says nothing about touching those not being held.

So, although the Transport Secretary has increased the penalty for using a mobile phone while driving to 6 points, there appears to be no legal guidance as to what actually constitutes an offence. Is it illegal to touch a phone mounted in a cradle being used as a satnav when driving? Would it still be illegal to touch it whilst stuck in traffic? Some in-car satnavs resolve the problem themselves by disallowing any manual input whilst in motion.

There has been much said on the subject in the UK press over the past few days, with general agreement being that the legal confusion can only be cleared up by the Transport Secretary - and the sooner the better.

Details from UK press coverage, including The Spectator below . .

  • 08 January 2018
  • RIN

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