Is it illegal to touch a phone being used as a sat nav while driving?

I put my smartphone in a holder attached to the dashboard and then use it as a sat nav. Sometimes I need to touch it to see how far ahead a traffic jam is going on. Am I breaking the law if I touch it when using it as a sat nav?

Asked on 19 October 2020 by Chris Wynne

Answered by Georgia Petrie
The laws on mobile phone use while driving is outdated as it was written in 2003. It states that an offence is committed if a driver uses a handheld phone for 'interactive telecommunication' while behind the wheel. As smartphones were not in existence then, the law no longer reflects the reality of mobile phone use while driving. By which I mean a driver recently got a conviction overturned in 2019 despite using his phone to record a video while driving. His lawyers successfully argued that the law only banned the use of mobile phones to speak or communicate while behind the wheel. The Government has moved to tighten the law around using handheld mobile phones while driving. The change, due to come into law after a 12-week public consultation, would allow police to take immediate action if they saw a driver holding and using a phone at the wheel. You can read more here: www.honestjohn.co.uk/news/driving-1/2020-10/consul.../

The law states that you can have hands-free access - such as voice command, a dashboard holder or mat, a windscreen mount etc. The device just can't block your view of the road and traffic ahead. The rule on touching a phone while it's being used as a hands-free device is a grey area, but I assume touching a phone is considered the same as using a phone while driving, even if it isn't being held. I would advise not to touch your phone at all while driving. You can still be convicted of driving without due care and attention, which the police could deem as anyone who's not looking at the road. That includes when you're in a traffic jam or stopped at traffic lights.
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