Finding your way around Europe’s sat-nav laws is harder than navigating a map.
Most drivers say they want to dump their sat-navs in favour of mobile phones to steer their way to their destinations, but do not realise that they are breaking the law.
Britain has strict laws about the use of hand-held devices by drivers, but the laws in other European countries are even tougher.
One service that causes confusion is speed camera detectors.
In the UK, it’s OK to have a mobile or sat-nav that has a pre-programmed list of camera locations.
Radar speed camera detectors
The police view is drivers will drive slower and take more care in a place where they know a camera is lurking, so the camera is doing its job.
However, this is illegal in France – where a 1,500 euro phone and six licence penalty points are the maximum fine. However, police powers to examine devices are limited.
Technology such as Snooper Laser Star, Valentine and Bel that jam radar cameras are illegal in the UK.
Using a hand-held sat-nav or phone is illegal in many countries if the police believe the device is distracting the driver, even if the driver is looking up directions while stationary in traffic.
Tom-Tom navigators with pre-programmed speed camera warnings are banned in a host of European countries.
The company has tried to work round the problem by reconfiguring the devices to give an audible alert in danger zones.
The problem for expats and holidaymakers travelling across several European countries is working out which allow hand-held sat-navs and speed camera warnings and which do not.
Besides the UK and France, these are other counties with satnav issues:
- Netherlands – Speed camera radar detection is illegal. Expect a fine and to have your device confiscated if caught.
- Austria – Speed camera radar detection is illegal
- Cyprus – Radar detectors and devices that warn of speed cameras are illegal
- Ireland – Radar detectors are illegal
- Denmark – Radar detectors are illegal
- Germany – Satnavs are legal, but radar detectors and pre-programmed speed camera warnings are not
- Italy – carrying as well as using radar detectors in a vehicle is illegal with fines of up to 2,375 euros and equipment confiscation available to police
- Liechtenstein – Radar detectors are illegal
- Norway – Radar detectors are illegal
- Portugal – Radar detectors are illegal
- Spain – Radar detectors are illegal
- Sweden – Radar detectors are illegal
- Switzerland – Radar detectors are illegal
The message from police across Europe is plan your journey and make sure that you have the correct sat-nav or mobile phone functions switched on or off when crossing borders to avoid breaking radar detector laws.