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Smartphone sat-nav could be criminal for drivers

The increased popularity to use smartphones for satellite navigation is opening up more drivers for prosecution, according to research from Gocompare.com Car Insurance.

According to the research 14% of drivers are using their mobile phone while driving to operate their smartphone sat nav app.

Go Compare has warned that using a smartphone while driving could invalidate their insurance. The research could help convince some drivers to the benefits of a factory fit sat nav.

Although the use of handheld devices as sat navs is permitted, if police can convict drivers if they believe it is causing them to be distracted and not in control of their vehicle.

In addition to being a hazard on the road, using a hand-held device while driving, including using a mobile phone to follow a map, could result in a maximum fine of up to £1,000 as well as three points on your licence, or even a driving ban. Gocompare.com found that a conviction and three points could increase car insurance premiums by as much as 24%.

Despite the potential threat, 32% believe built-in sat navs or portable sat navs are “outdated”. Just one in five drivers still use a traditional road map to navigate to their destination.

Almost half (49%) said they used a smartphone for navigation as it was easy to use and accessible. Almost two thirds (63%) of drivers said they preferred to use their smartphones because they carry it with them regularly.

Matt Oliver, car insurance spokesperson at Gocompare.com, said: "With many drivers now also using their phones as satnavs, the same rules apply as to the use of any hands-free device, whether that is a phone, satnav or a two-way radio - you can use them while driving, but if the police think you are distracted, or not in control of your vehicle, you could find yourself being stopped and penalised. If using a navigation device was deemed to result in you driving without due care and attention, you may find yourself not only falling foul of the law but also facing significant increases in your insurance premiums."

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