For many people, a satnav unit is a crucial part of getting around, offering those well-timed tips and directions. However, does the position of it on your car windscreen make a difference? It might make it easier to reach but what many drivers don’t know is that there is only one ‘correct’ location according to police forces.

Police advice

The issue was highlighted following a post by Greater Manchester Police’s traffic unit. The Twitter post contained an image of where drivers should be putting satellite navigation units.

In the image, the unit was positioned at the bottom right-hand side of the windscreen. According to the accompanying tweet, this is the ‘only legal place’ to put it. If you put a satnav unit anywhere else, you are breaking the law.

Twitter users were quick to raise issues with this statement, with many saying they place theirs near the rear-view mirror. GMP later confirmed that this is legal as well – providing it doesn’t obstruct the driver’s view ahead.

Is your satnav illegal?© Copyright Andrew and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Clear view

This stipulation comes from the Highway Code which states that windscreens and windows ‘must be kept clean and free from obstruction to vision.’ However, there is no actual legislation available that states where the devices should be located, merely that their placement should follow this code.

Further, it is unlikely that drivers will be pulled over for ‘incorrect’ positioning of a satnav unit unless they are placing it somewhere ridiculous – like straight in front of them as they drive.

Many drivers make use of specialist holders for the units, that attach to the air vents, to prevent obstruction. While others may place it on the windscreen, in the bottom right or left corner, meaning it is out of the driver’s general view. Also, make sure that the wires are not trailing across either the steering wheel or the handbrake.

Set and forget

Drivers can also get into trouble for messing around and tampering with a satnav while they are driving. Instead, you should either set it before you leave, and not touch it while driving, or pull over, turn off the ignition and then make the necessary changes to the settings.

Other tips in the code regarding how to use technology safely include not ‘relying on’ cruise control or lane departure warnings. You should use them to assist you but not to reduce your concentration levels while driving.

Satnav tips

The AA has created a list of tips to help you make the most of your satnav unit without running into any trouble with the local police force. The tips include:

• Don’t blame the satnav if you have an accident because you are still the one in complete control of the vehicle – it just gives you instructions.

• Use your eyes first – just because the satnav says there is a road ahead, and all you can see a river, use your initiative and don’t keep driving because the satnav tells you to.

• Remember to account for the size of the vehicle you are driving – satnav units only advise you on the route. For example, if you are towing a caravan, the satnav won’t register this information and therefore you may encounter tight corners, low bridges etc.

• Never watch the satnav – listen to what it says but always keep your eyes on the road.

• Check the route before you leave – satnav units are smart but sometimes they may suggest directions that aren’t practical for one reason or another. So, always check before you set off rather than trying to amend the route while driving.

• Make sure you regularly update the unit – as roads change; the satnav will only register these changes when it is updated.

Satnav units are a useful tool and have stopped many a driver from getting lost, but can also cause problems. So, use common sense when utilising them and you should steer clear of the local police.

How often do you rely on your satnav to get around? Have you been guilty of mounting the satnav in the ‘wrong place’? Let us know in the comments below.

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