I admonished (in the nicest possible way) a friend this morning for inappropriate positioning of her mobile phone on her windscreen. As the friend was Madame Editor, she instructed me (also in the nicest possible way) to post something about it. So here goes.
The Department for Transport guidelines divide the windscreen into two areas. Zone A is “a vertical area 290 mm wide, centred on the steering wheel and contained within the swept area of the windscreen.” Zone B is the rest of the windscreen covered by the wipers.
The RAC provide a diagram to illustrate this, which I hope they won’t mind my reproducing here.
You can’t have anything more than 10 mm big in Zone A, and nothing more than 40 mm big in Zone B.
So far so good. But MOT testing rules permit items if they obstruct only the driver’s view of the sky or of the bonnet. And little account is taken of the height of the driver. A short person may never look through the top part of the windscreen; a tall person may never look through the bottom.
Halfords recommend placing devices low down and as far right as possible. Also think about trailing cables – they are generally not looked on favourably. Items placed high on the windscreen might dangle if they fall. My preference is for a dash-mounted holder that is kept well clear of the windscreen.
An Advanced Driver once advised me that sat-nav devices shouldn’t be in sight at all, but that the driver should rely on the spoken instructions (like in the olden days when we had human map-readers). Personally, I’m not so sure. I rely on a glance at the sat-nav screen to confirm exactly which “next left” it means.
Also remember that it is illegal to touch your phone while driving – even if you are using it for navigation. As with any mobile phone usage, you must be stopped in a recognised parking place, with the engine off and brake applied. Incidentally, it is also illegal to use your phone to pay at a drive-through eatery. That counts as using a mobile phone while driving.
Similar rules apply to dash-cams. But to me, these guidelines are slightly muddied by the fact that, if I were to use the footage as evidence in an insurance claim, it should record a similar view to my own. It needs a clear view of the road ahead, which suggests it needs to look through the area that is kept clear by the windscreen wipers. Also, if used for play-back, the screen must be out of sight of the driver.
I’ve placed mine just behind and to the left (nearside) of the rear-view mirror (yes, I know this contradicts what I wrote above about not placing items high on the screen). This position is already obscured by the rear-view mirror, and I’m not tempted to touch it while driving because I can’t actually see it.
So, how clear is your windscreen? Have I given you a Sunday afternoon task of rearranging your devices?