Drivers who use their mobile phones as satellite navigation devices risk being banned from driving, police chiefs have warned.
Tougher penalties, which came into force in April, were intended to clampdown on drivers using their mobile phones to make calls and send text messages while at the wheel. However, drivers have now been warned that the strict laws around mobile phone use, also extends to using them as satellite navigation devices.
While it is not illegal to use a navigation app on a handheld device, drivers do face prosecution if they touch the handset while at the wheel. The maximum penalty for hand-held mobile phone use has doubled, with offenders now facing a £200 fine and six points, or disqualification if they had held their licence for less than two years.
A spokesman for the National Police Chiefs’ Council was quoted by The Daily Telegraph as saying: “If an officer determines that a driver using their satnav hindered their ability to control the car, the driver could face prosecution.”
Meanwhile, road safety and breakdown specialist GEM Motoring Assist continues to urge drivers to put safety first and refrain from using their mobile phones at the wheel.
GEM road safety officer Neil Worth said: “More than 200 drivers were still being caught using their phones illegally every day, months after the new penalties were brought in. The risk comes not only from the physical distraction of holding a phone while driving, but also from the mental distraction every driver faces when trying to do something else other than drive.
Figures from the Department for Transport show that 22 people were killed and another 99 seriously injured in collisions in 2015 where a motorist using a mobile phone was a contributory factor.
The new penalties did not just apply to drivers talking on a hand-held phone, explained Mr Worth. He said: “Composing text messages, reading text messages, browsing the internet, taking pictures with your phone’s camera and programming a satnav app on your handset are all illegal while you’re driving.”