Using your phone for directions in the car could break the law

Using your phone for directions in the car could break the law

A recent investigation by Admiral car insurance found that while more than half of drivers in the UK rely on a sat nav for finding their way from A to B, almost a quarter (22%) of drivers say they use a map app on a mobile phone to find their way.

Relying heavily on their mobile phone’s navigation app could mean motorists are not only distracted while driving, but they could also be breaking the law.

When asked where they place their phone while driving, 14% admitted to leaving it somewhere unsafe either on the passenger seat, rested but not secured to the dashboard, or on their lap.

Motorists caught touching their phone, even if it is to quickly alter their route, could be hit with a hefty fine and receive points on their licence.

The investigation revealed one in 20 drivers have ended up in a bus lane, a fifth (21%) have taken a wrong exit and 17% have got lost whilst driving following a sat nav or phone app for directions.

Rank

Number of motorists who have made a mistake on the road following sat nav or maps on a phone app directions

%

1

Taken a wrong turn

32%

2

Taken the wrong exit

21%

3

Gotten lost

17%

4

Driven in the wrong lane on a motorway

6%

5

Driven in a bus lane

5%

Analysis of Admiral’s own data revealed a high number of accidents involving motorists who have been using a phone or sat nav for directions. Investigating the reasons for the accidents, Admiral identified 11 categories why using a sat nav or phone map app led to accidents:

Admiral’s 11 rules for Sat Nav and phone map claims:

  1. Sat navs can give wrong directions
  2. People are often distracted looking at their sat nav or phone
  3. Some instructions from a sat nav are complicated and confusing
  4. Sat nav accidents can be the fault of the other driver using one
  5. Sat navs don’t tell you about the road conditions
  6. Sat navs can’t tell you what road signs say
  7. Road signs and road markings change but sat navs aren’t always up to date
  8. Roundabouts seem to be a particular problem for sat nav users
  9. As does getting in the correct lane
  10. And one-way streets
  11. City roads are usually worse than the country roads for sat nav accidents

Admiral identified that drivers using map phone apps or sat navs commonly stated that they had being given wrong directions which directly led to them having an accident.

Admiral also identified that drivers commonly blamed the devices for distracting them, leading to them having an accident.

Other claims were made because the driver found themselves in the wrong lane while following sat nav or map apps on their phone and then attempted to correct themselves. Roundabout related accidents were another common accident theme the insurer identified.

Clare Egan, Head of Motor Product at Admiral said: “With over five million motorists not feeling confident enough to read a map for directions, many of us rely heavily on technology to get us from A to B, but phone apps and sat navs can cause problems of their own.

“At Admiral, we’ve seen examples where people using either their sat nav or phone have had an accident because they’ve been too distracted by the device when they should be focussing on the road and potential hazards in front of them.

“Our investigation proves just how important it is to make sure that as a driver, you’re confident following directions and can act safely, even if you’ve made a mistake.

“If driving somewhere new, make sure you’re prepared, check the route before you leave. If you think you’ve taken a wrong turn, always pull over and turn your engine off before checking your phone or sat nav to make sure you’re not breaking the law.

“Keeping a traditional road map or atlas in your car is also a good idea, in case your phone runs out of power or your sat nav sends you down the wrong road. Getting lost can be frustrating, but the time you might save by looking at your phone whilst driving instead of the road will never be worth endangering the lives of yourself or others.”

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