You could lose your licence and get a £5k fine for looking at Google Maps while driving – even on someone else’s phone

You could lose your licence and get a £5k fine for looking at Google Maps while driving – even on someone else’s phone
You could lose your licence and get a £5k fine for looking at Google Maps while driving – even on someone else’s phone

Whether you’re driving somewhere you haven’t been before, or even just checking the traffic levels on your regular commute, many of us rely on Google Maps to get us to where we need to be on a daily basis.

But if you’ve got a passenger in the car who shows your their phone screen, for Google Maps or anything else, you run the risk of a large fine and a ban from driving.

Distracted driving

If you’re seen at the wheel looking at someone else’s phone for any reason, then you face the possibility of an on-the-spot fine of £100.

However, depending on the circumstances, this could increase to a fine of £5,000, nine points on your licence or possibly having your licence taken away altogether. There isn’t a specific law against this practice, but it would classify as driving without due care and attention.

The Road Traffic Act 1988 states that “if a person drives a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public space without care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or place, he is guilty of an offence”.

The offence

According to RAC, there are many examples of behaviours that could fall under the remit of not paying attention while driving, including:

  • Fiddling with the radio
  • Setting a sat nav
  • Read a map (or anything else)
  • Eating or drinking at the wheel
  • Adjusting your seat
  • Being distracted by your passengers
  • Driving aggressively
  • Swerving across lanes

Driving and mobile phones

The Highway Code states that while driving, it’s illegal to hold a phone or sat nav – you must have hands-free access, such as:

  • A bluetooth headset
  • Voice command
  • A dashboard holder or mat
  • A windscreen mount
  • A built in sat nav

The device “must not block your view of the road and traffic ahead”.

It also states that you must stay in full control of your vehicle at all times and the police are within their right to stop you if they think you’re not in control because you are distracted.

This law applies to you even if you’re:

  • Stopped at traffic lights
  • Queuing in traffic
  • Supervising a learner driver

You’re only allowed to use a hand held phone if you’re safely parked or in the event that you need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop.

The penalty for using a hand held phone while driving is a £200 fine and six points on your licence. You would also lose your licence if you had passed your driving test in the last two years.

You can pick up three penalty points if you don’t have full view of the road and traffic, or proper control of the vehicle.

In these circumstances, you can also be taken to court, where you can be banned from driving and get a maximum fine of £1,000 or £2,5000 if you’re driving a lorry or a bus.

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