Driving Tip - Satnavs

The IAM believes that satellite navigation units (satnavs) can be a real aid to road safety if used sensibly, once the driver is familiar with technology and it is no longer proving a distraction.

Follow these tips to keep your satnav safe and get the best out of it.

  • Think about the position of the unit: to comply with the Road Traffic Act’s Construction and Use regulations, the satellite navigation unit must not be located anywhere within the sweep of the windscreen wipers or anywhere where else that would cause obstruction to the clear vision of the driver;
  • Also avoid anywhere where an airbag could be deployed;
  • Programme it before you set off, not while you are driving;
  • Have a map as a fall back: remember the satellite navigation equipment in not infallible so do have some idea of your route before you set out;
  • If the unit asks you to do something that is clearly wrong (driving through a field, for example) then disregard that advice; it is a tool to help, not a substitute for common sense; 
  • Take particular care if you are driving a hired vehicle that is larger than one you are used to:  weight/height restrictions apply and can affect your optimum route;
  • Use the audible instruction to guide you (don’t try to read it);
  • Remove the unit before leaving the vehicle.  Insurance cover may be invalid if reasonable precautions have not been taken to reduce the risk of theft;
  • Make sure that a visible “ring” is removed from the windscreen - it’s a giveaway.
  • Don’t programme in your “home” details; thieves have been known to use these once they have stolen the satnav unit to commit further offences.
  • If you need to programme an alternative route to avoid congestion, then pull up somewhere safe to do it.  Do not attempt to re-programme the unit while driving.

Although there is no legislation for the correct use of satellite navigation equipment, the police have a number of offences they can use if they believe the driver to have been ‘”driving without due care” or for failure to have proper control’ which could result in endorsements of between three and nine penalty points on your licence.

31 August 2007 Staff

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