Volkswagen Warns UK Drivers at Risk Using Smartphone Navigation

Volkswagen has warned UK LCV drivers they may be breaking the law, risking fines and penalty points on their licenses, by using navigation apps on their smartphones.

The issue places commercial drivers at risk since this January when a change in the highway regulations made it illegal to touch a mobile device while driving in a bid to close a loop-hole that had seen several cases of drivers taking photographs or scrolling through social media. Now drivers on the move can only use mobile devices that can be operated remotely, such as through the vehicle’s onboard infotainment system or by voice command.

This warning, by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, is initially aimed at the delivery van driver. However, in practice, this applies to a much wider range of motorists who increasingly trust the crowd-sourced traffic updates provided by app such as Waze above the less up-to-date information delivered by most automaker infotainment systems.

Research by Volkswagen of 1,000 UK van drivers found 46% use an app on their smartphone risking a £200 ($268) fine and six penalty points on their license – clocking up 10 points in the country invokes an immediate driving ban. In total, 93% of van drivers use a sat nav system, whether through their vehicle’s in-built infotainment, an app, or a standalone product.

Despite many keying in a destination before setting off, the research found that half don’t always listen to the instructions, instead preferring to take their own shortcuts and ignoring the advice of the technology, despite the latest generation of sat navs offering real-time traffic updates to divert around road closures or congestion. However, many drivers will testify to the superior performance of some third-party apps that feed in extra data from users who spot problems on their journeys.

David Hanna, head of sales operations at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, said: “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.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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