New research by Volkswagen has given an insight into just how many van drivers are risking fines and worse by using smart devices behind the wheel.
The study, which covered 1,000 UK van drivers, found that around 46% of drivers use navigation apps on their phones while behind the wheel, putting them at risk of an instant £200 fine and even receiving six penalty points on their licence thanks to new rules introduced in January 2022.
The law has been updated regarding smart devices, closing a loophole allowing the use of the camera and social media apps.
While navigation via your phone or a dedicated device isn’t inherently illegal, it needs to be secured or mounted in an area that doesn’t obscure your view.
Even then, to be legal for use it needs to have some kind of hands-free integration, either through voice commands, a Bluetooth headset or mirroring via the van’s infotainment system.
Any operation outside these guidelines could risk the above instant fine.
These laws and guidelines apply to a vast majority of van and commercial vehicle operators, of whom 93% use navigation systems of some description – inbuilt, via an app, a piece of hardware or otherwise.
Of course, the very safest and most down-the-line way of operating navigation systems on the move is via infotainment systems.
Apps like Google Maps and Waze are preferred by many to those found in most vehicle infotainment systems, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto help integrate the two. Both come as standard fitment in most vans and commercial vehicles that ship with an infotainment screen.
The research also found that many drivers often elect to ignore instructions given by navigation systems, preferring instead their own shortcuts and routes. This is despite most modern navigation apps and systems being capable of altering routes in real-time based on traffic and road conditions.
Overall, just 7% of van drivers do without any digitised route guidance, instead relying on their own knowledge and good old-fashioned paper maps.
“We know that van drivers rely on sat navs to get them from one job to the next, but it’s important they do so legally,” said David Hanna, Head of Sales Operations at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.
"No matter which app or device you prefer for your directions, we have the technology in our award-winning range of vehicles to get you from A to B in a way that best suits you, while ensuring both yourself and other road users are safe.”
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