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New visitor to the U.K. (in technology age) Sat Nav Question

Hi folks,

I've been to the UK a few times, but it's been 20+ years since I was there last time. Back in the old days, I used a paper map to get around, but these days I want to use a SatNav system. A buddy in the UK told me that the hands-free laws these days make using a cell phone more problematic as you don't want to be seen touching a dashboard mounted phone. He advised that I get a standalone SatNav. I assume this means I have to buy a dedicated device with the UK maps preloaded on it, but looking for advice on a good model. Any guidance/experience info would be great.

Bob

Posted by
4670 posts

Using a phone as a navigation tool won't require you to be touching it whilst driving as it works just like a standalone sat nav. If you don't touch your sat nav whilst driving why would you touch your phone when it's in navigation mode?

Don't waste your money on a dedicated sat nav, just use your phone with a dashboard mount.

Posted by
43 posts

I guess I'm not as touch-free as you are. I touch my GPS all the time. Mostly to see turn-by-turn, find restaurants, and to provide Waze with feedback. I can skip the Waze feedback part, but I like the rest. Also discovered last night my daughter has a Garmin GPS in her car that I could use, I just have to figure out if I can load the UK maps on it I guess. But still interested in other's thoughts on this. Thanks for the reply.

Posted by
638 posts

Sounds like you need to learn not to touch your navigation device while driving - whether it's a phone in navigation mode or a dedicated navigation device.

If you find it's feasible to get the UK maps loaded onto that Garmin, just be sure the map install was successful after it's done. I have a good old Garmin (since discontinued but still supported because it came with lifetime map updates). Now and then I update the little thing, especially if I'm heading off on a road trip - although these days I find Google maps on my phone to be sufficient for most sat navigation. A couple of times I've run the update on the Garmin, which was supposedly successful. Then gotten into the car, turned on the Garmin, and gotten a "can't load maps" or similar error message. The cure was to hook it up to the computer and reload the maps. Not a big deal when it happened before I left on a trip. More inconvenient when I first turned it on after I'd hit the road.

Personally I still prefer the Garmin interface to the maps on my phone. Somehow the Garmin map/route displays make more sense to me, and it usually displays the speed limit of the road I'm on which I find very useful.

And, I'd like to know more about how the police in the UK ticket drivers for touching their mobile devices. Is it OK to touch the device while stopped at a traffic light?

EDITED to add: Okay, I asked my good friend Google. Wow. This is serious. You CAN'T touch your mobile device if the car is even running. Good for the UK. https://www.thesun.co.uk/motors/2180138/illegal-mobile-phone-driving-laws-fine/

Posted by
4670 posts

I guess I'm not as touch-free as you are. I touch my GPS all the time.

Well, don't!

There's a reason the law in the UK is strict on motorists using electronic devices whilst driving, such lapses of attention can prove fatal as this dashcam footage shows: (taken from dashcam footage of a truck driver who crashed into stationary traffic in the UK)

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/video/2016/oct/31/lorry-driver-tomasz-kroker-tracey-houghton-mobile-a34-dashcam-video

There's no need to touch a sat nav whilst driving, you input your destination and away you go. If you want to find destinations on the route either input them at the beginning or pull over.

I've witnessed the aftermath of such inattentive behaviour too many times to have such a lassez faire approach to driving.

Posted by
267 posts

Hi Bob,
I have nieces that live over there, and one mentioned that there is SatNav in all the cars she's ever rented.
If you are renting a car, you may want to ask if it comes with a SatNav already.
Have a good trip :)
-Aly

Posted by
27744 posts

Listen to JC.

Don't do it. Phone or satnav. To avoid a fine when touching your phone your car needs to be parked with the engine off.

Posted by
19 posts

What if you have a passenger in charge of the phone and the driver is not using it at all? Would they still fine you if the car is moving?

Posted by
4670 posts

What if you have a passenger in charge of the phone and the driver is not using it at all? Would they still fine you if the car is moving?

A passenger using a phone or sat nav is fine, the law only applies to the driver.

Posted by
823 posts

A few thoughts.

Garmin sells "world map" models and Sam's Club used to carry one for around $125.

I also use the Maps.Me (Maps With Me) app on both IOS and Android phones and tablets with guilt in GPS receivers. This app works just fine when not on a data network (WIFI or cellular) so you could use it without purchasing a data plan. The trick to using this app is to download all the maps you need BEFORE you leave as that requires a network, preferably WIFI, connection. Just zoom (way in) to the locations you're traveling to and the app will prompt you to download the maps you need.

Optimally, I would get a SIM card with a data plan for your phone/tablet and use Google Maps. I have ditched my Garmin and use my phone pretty much a 100% of the time. The big bonus is that most newer cars have Bluetooth and infotainment screens so you can play the directions through the car's speakers. If you're really lucky, the car will be Android or Apple CARPlay compatible and you'll be able to display your maps on the infotainment screen as well.

Another big bonus of having a data plan is if you're visiting London. The Transport for London (TFL) web site has a wonderful trip planner that allows you to look up all your public transport options for getting from point A to B on the fly.

Best of all, the SIM and data plan will cost you much less than purchasing a new Garmin or European maps for an existing Garmin...

Posted by
43 posts

Thanks all for the advice. I ended up renting a car from hertz which was both automatic transmission and had built in nav sat. I called about a week before my rental to confirm. Postal codes are the key to navigation, so my advice is to prepare a travel itinerary for yourself before you go that lists out all the codes you will need in one quick reference guide.

Bob

Posted by
638 posts

Thanks for coming back and letting us know how it went. The info about postal codes is helpful.