This article pertains specifically to UK law and the rules of the road.
The UK highway code states that 'windscreens and windows must be kept clean and free from obstructions to vision'. That seems like a pretty clear statement. You must not place anything on the windows or windscreens that obscures your view. In fact, as far back as 2010, the Department For Transport created an information sheet that outlined exactly where items should and should not be placed.
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 simple: avoid any obstructions. In practical terms, this 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 just one more reason why you should insist on commercially designed cameras for your fleet vehicles. For example, in our CameraMatics vehicle camera solutions, 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 set up gives the camera a perfect view of the road, it does not obstruct the driver’s view in any way and is professionally installed so there are no hanging or trailing cables.
Of course, a fully connected camera system from CameraMatics comes with many other benefits - including real-time footage, remote download and integrated technologies such as GPS tracking and telematics.
Don’t Take The Risk
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 drivers and your company of wrongdoing in the event of an accident and the increasing focus on Direct Vision Standard type initiatives also means that anything which obscures the driver's view will be increasingly frowned upon by the authorities and the police.
This is one of a series of articles about vehicle cameras and the law, however, should you have any concerns or questions about the implementation or use of vehicle cameras, we would suggest you consult with your solicitor.