Using your phone instead of a satnav could get you into a lot of trouble with the law, if you're not careful.

Earlier this year, tougher penalties were introduced to people caught using their phones at the wheel. The new law, which came into place from March 1, means that anyone caught by police will be handed six penalty points and a £200 fine.

Any new drivers who are caught - those who have passed their test within the last two years - will automatically lose their licence. Naturally, lots of us use apps such as Google Maps and Citymapper as an in-car satnav.

But, worryingly for many motorists, if you touch the phone while the engine is on you are breaking the law.

This means, unless you can guarantee you won’t need to handle it for the duration of your trip, it would be wise not to use your phone.

The law also applies when drivers are sitting in stationary traffic, so they technically can’t even adjust the route at lights or in a traffic jam.

WalesOnline has created a guide on how to use your phone for directions, without breaking the law.

Pre-programme your phone

According to the AA, while it's an offence to be seen using a hand held phone, regardless of whether driving has been affected, this is not the case for hands-free phones.

However, if you're seen not to be in control of a vehicle while using a hands-free phone you can be prosecuted for that offence.

The penalties for "not in proper control" are a £100 fine and three points and up to £1,000 fine if it goes to court.

Make sure you set up your phone properly to use as hands-free before you set off and, if you need to touch your phone at any point during your journey, pull over to do so.

A spokesman for the AA said: "It should be programmed with the route before you set off. If it pops up with a message which requires just one press of a button, such as 'A faster route has been found. Accept/ Decline' you should be okay to do this, as you would with an in-built satnav.

"However, if you need to re-programme the route then pull over and stop somewhere safe to do it."

Anyone who uses their phone for sat nav could find themselves in trouble

Get an appropriate holder

To display your mobile phone so you can hear it while driving - and so you can follow instructions without being too distracted, most drivers will place the handset into a holder which can be attached to the windscreen.

But if police deem this to be obstructing your view, it can count against you. Under the Highway Code, drivers are required to keep windscreens clear. You can buy holders which attach to your air vents, eliminating this problem.

If in doubt...

Think you won’t be able to go the whole journey without touching your phone? Shut it in the glove compartment - it’s better to be safe than sorry.

And maybe get the old sat nav out for good measure. If you need to make or take a call, the AA guidance is to leave it to go to voicemail - even if you have a hands-free phone - or to pull over.

If you do use a hands-free phone to talk, keep conversations short and simple or find a safe and legal place to stop and phone them back.

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