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Could using your satnav or smartphone while driving have criminal and insurance implications

13 October 2015

New research from Gocompare.com Car Insurance has found that UK drivers have mothballed maps in favour of smartphones, and could invalidate their insurance or face a criminal conviction by doing so.

The study by Gocompare.com Car Insurance found that;

  • Just one in five drivers still use a traditional map
  • 23% could risk a conviction by using either Google or Apple maps via a smartphone while driving
  • Just under half (49%) of drivers use a satnav
  • 56% of 18-24 year olds use Google or Apple maps on their smartphone with only 7% choosing a traditional map
  • 14% of drivers have changed the settings or destination on a satnav or phone while driving

While the research shows that the traditional A-Z road map may no longer have a place in the nation’s glove boxes, some smartphone users also felt that satnavs were a thing of the past, with 32% saying they thought that they were outdated.

Almost half (49%) said they used a smartphone for navigation as it was easy to use and accessible.  However, using a smartphone with an app like Google or Apple maps while driving could land you in trouble with your insurer and the police.

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.

Having a CU80 endorsement (breach of requirements as to control of the vehicle, including using a mobile phone while driving)  can have a serious impact on your insurance premiums. In one example, Gocompare.com found that a CU80 conviction and three points could increase car insurance premiums by as much as 24%**.

Gocompare.com’s survey also revealed that 14% of drivers admitted to changing their satnav settings or destination while driving.  Although the use of handheld devices as sat navs is permitted, if police think you are distracted and not in control of your vehicle then you could still get stopped and penalised.

The majority of drivers who use satnavs and smartphones claim to do so because they are easy to use. 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: “When it comes to using a phone or any similar handheld device whilst driving a motor vehicle, the law is absolutely clear: it is illegal to do so and carries a fixed penalty notice and a fine. What many drivers may not know is that the rules also apply when stopped at traffic lights and queuing in traffic.

“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 whilst 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.”

Gocompare.com have produced a guide on the impact that using your phone while driving can have on your insurance, as well as criminal implications.

Gocompare.com has created an infographic on distracted drivers


Notes to editors:

* On 15-16th June 2015, Bilendi conducted an online survey among 1,574 randomly selected British adults who are Maximiles UK panellists and are motorists.  The margin of error-which measures sampling variability-is +/- 2.2%. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and regional data to ensure samples representative of the entire adult population of United Kingdom. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

**Based on the difference between the average cost of the top five cheapest policies with and without a CU80. Quotes obtained via Gocomparre.com on 1st October 2015.