This article pertains specifically to UK law and the rules of the road.
We see them all the time; people driving along with a GPS, mobile phone and dashcam, all attached to their windscreen like a lo-tech Starship Enterprise! But few people realise that just one device positioned in the wrong place can land them in hot water, and this is especially true for commercial drivers where good visibility is a much more critical issue.
The UK highway code states that “windscreens and windows MUST be kept clean and free from obstructions to vision”. That’s seems like a pretty clear statement. You must not place anything on the windows or windscreens that obscures your view. In fact the Department For Transport created an information sheet that outlined exactly where items should and should not be placed. This was then turned into an image as follows:
Despite this guidance, the use of devices stuck to windscreens is pervasive. So, you should be aware that if you are involved in an accident, any contributing factors, such as items blocking your view, will be taken into consideration.
If you are a fleet owner, that means that a diligent driver will simply remove the ‘offending’ item or in the event of an incident, your company and directors could be held liable for placing equipment in such a way as to obscure the driver’s view. Neither of these scenarios is ideal.
The best advice is to avoid any obstructions. That means using mounts that attach to the dash or vents rather than the windscreen. But in the case of dashcams, they are designed to view straight out of the windscreen and their design and size means they typically cannot be placed anywhere but in a position that could be deemed to obscure the view.
This is why you should insist on commercially designed cameras for your fleet. For example, ProVision provides vehicle camera solutions where the camera is separate from the DVR. That means the camera can be very small and so can typically be fitted at the very top of the windscreen and can even be tucked in behind the rear-view mirror where one exists. This means it has a perfect view of the road, does not obstruct the driver’s view in any way and is professionally installed so there are no hanging or trailing cables.
With so many other advantages of professional systems designed for commercial use, why take the risk of using a basic vehicle camera product? Compliance is a major factor in clearing your company of wrongdoing in the event of an accident and the focus on Direct Vision initiatives also means that anything which obscures the drivers view will be very much frowned upon by the authorities and the police.