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All you need to know about the law surrounding satnavs; You could be potentially breaking the law without even realising it if, for example, your satnav is in the wrong position on your windscreen.

Byline: Connor Dunn

Questions surrounding the legal position ofsatellite navigation systemson vehicle windscreens have long been debated.

While it's not exactly illegal to have a satnav placed on the front window of your car, it's also not encouraged.

If you place the device on certain sections of your windscreen, it could be seen as a breach of the Highway Code and could see you incur a penalty for having it there.

According to theHighway Code,"windscreens and windows MUST be kept clean and free from obstructions to vision".

Arguably, having a satnav on your windscreen would constitute such an obstruction.

So, if you were caught with a system on your windscreen and the police deemed it an obstruction to vision, would you be breaking the law?

Not exactly -- although many of the rules are legal obligations, some are not.

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There is no actual legislation stating where devices have to be placed, as long as it does not cause - that word again - an obstruction.

Drivers are unlikely to be pulled over if the satnav is on the windscreen, barring a ridiculous and obviously obstructive placement of the device.

You can now buy satnav/phone holders that can be inserted into your air vent. These provide a safe alternative to the windscreen-mounted devices.

If you really wish to have your satnav on your windscreen, it can be safely placed at the very bottom close to the dashboard.

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Motorists can also get in trouble if they are seen to be distracted by their satnav and are fiddling with it while at the wheel.

If you need to change the setting on the device while driving, the best thing to do is to pull over with the ignition off.

The Highway Code also states: "Do not rely on driver assistance systems such as cruise control or lane departure warnings.

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"They are available to assist but you should not reduce your concentration levels."

If you fail to comply with the non-mandatory parts of the Highway Code, it can count against you in a court case.

1) You're driving, not the satnav

You can't blame the satnav if you commit an offence or have an accident -- it's your fault.

2) Trust your eyes, not the satnav

People have been marooned in fords, driven into rivers and down railways because their satnav told them to.

If the road looks wrong, don't take it.

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3) You know what you're driving, the satnav probably doesn't

If you have a large vehicle or a caravan, you can't be sure that a road is suitable just because the satnav tells you to go down it.

Watch for signs, particularly height, weight or width restrictions.

4) Watch the road, not the satnav

A satnav can give all sorts of information about where you are going, much of which you don't need.

5) Don't block your view of the road

The satnav should be in your line of sight.

You don't want to have to look down or turn your head a long way but it shouldn't block your view of the road.

Put it where it won't injure anyone in an accident.

6) Don't try to programme the satnav while driving

Programming on the move will take one hand from the wheel, two eyes from the road and your brain from driving.

Always pull over before adjusting settings.

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7) Use all of the features

On a complicated, busy roundabout, it's unwise to take your eyes off the road to look at the satnav, and much better to receive spoken instructions.

8) Check the route is practical before you go

Is the satnav taking you to the right Farnborough? Hampshire, Warwickshire or Kent?

Does the route look right?

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9) Update the satnav regularly

It needs to know about new roads, new traffic systems and generally keep itself up to date.

10) Thieves like satnavs too

If it's detachable, always take it out when you leave the car.

Mounts or suction cap marks also attract thieves as they know that drivers who remove the satnav from the window tend to leave it in the car.


Credit: Manchester Evening News

Motorists can get in trouble if they are seen to be distracted by their satnav

Credit: Handout

Is your satnav illegal? Here's what the law says

Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Make sure you can see the road clearly
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Publication:Crosby Herald (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jan 6, 2018
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