Drivers are being urged to take care when using a sat nav in their car as there is only one location where it is legal. Sat navs are a popular and useful piece of technology which are used by millions of British motorists. They will come in handy for drivers of older cars where these devices aren’t present. Similarly, they can also offer a better and more intuitive experience than some of the baked-in systems manufacturers use in their cars. However, motorists need to take more care than they likely are to avoid being fined. A lot of sat navs are charged via a 12V socket which is typically located in the centre console connected via a micro-USB input.
Intuitively then you could assume that you would be allowed to place the sat nav in the centre of the windscreen above the dashboard to be able to utilise the charger.
This is not the case and if you’re caught with your sat nav there then you could actually land you a big fine.
The Highway Code states that “windscreens and windows MUST be kept clean and free from obstructions to vision”.
This hardly needs explaining as an obscured windscreen will obviously increase the risk of an accident. However, when referring to sat navs drivers need to take extra precautions.
While it is not technically illegal to place the device at the centre of the windscreen, it could be obstructing your windscreen and land you a fine.
If it can be deemed to be causing an obstruction or distracting then you could be penalised.
The Road Traffic Act states “no person shall drive a motor vehicle on a road if he is in such a position that he cannot … have a full view of the road and traffic ahead”.
Motorists can be fined £100 on-the-spot fine and three penalty points for offences related to the sat nav.
However, if your case goes to court then you can be charged a maximum £1,000 fine. GEM Motoring Assist claims the there is only one place where it is safe to place your sat nav.
Road safety officer Neil Worth commented that the safe place to place the screen is “in the bottom right-hand corner of your windscreen.”
He continued: “A typical large screen sat nav device measuring nearly seven inches (17cm) wide by four inches (10.48cm) high has the potential to restrict a driver’s field of view, especially if it’s mounted in the centre of the windscreen below a large rear view mirror.
“A small screen device may seem to be only a minor obstruction from inside the car. However, it has the potential to hide a much larger area outside the car, depending on where you sit and the distance you are from it.
“Placing a satnav right in the centre of the windscreen will block most of your nearside view, and will mean you miss all the hazards that might be there.
“This is particularly dangerous on left hand bends, at junctions and crossings, and in any locations where you may share the road space with cyclists and pedestrians.”
Rebecca Ashton, head of driver behaviour at IAM RoadSmart, said: “Your dash cam should be fitted in accordance with the manufacturers recommendations, giving them the maximum field of view – however this needs to be away from the drivers field of vision.
“If possible they should be mounted in or near the middle of the front windscreen allowing for the view from either side to be recorded.
“Making sure any footage has a good balance of road and sky which will help with exposure, if your dash cam links to a smartphone you can check this while setting it up.”
GEM has some simple tips to ensure your view of the road is not obstructed by a poorly-positioned satnav:
- Ensure you position your device in the bottom right corner of your windscreen, where any obstruction to your field of view will be minimised.
- Make sure you choose the right seat height and position to suit your individual shape and size before positioning your satnav.
- Avoid fitting the satnav to a location that could cause injury to a driver or passenger in a crash. This includes potential head strike zones on the windscreen.
- Never fit the satnav high up on the windscreen. As well as severely restricting vision, this could interfere with the rear view mirror and sun visors, and will require power cords to trail across the driver’s field of vision.
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