Although many new cars now come with built-in satnav technology, the use of standalone satnav devices is still a very popular option with motorists. Breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist highlights that the correct positioning of such devices to windscreens is critical, and that a badly located mount can pose a significant threat to road safety.
According to Neil Worth, road safety officer with GEM, today’s large screen devices positioned in the middle of a car windscreen mean a potentially lethal reduction in driver visibility, especially on left hand bends and at junctions.
“If you have received a satnav, then do take a few moments to choose the only safe and legal part of your windscreen to fix it – which is in the bottom right hand corner of your windscreen.”
“Satnavs are great for relieving a lot of motoring stress, added Mr. Worth. “But if you’re obscuring your field of view in the process, then you are putting yourself and others at considerable risk. After all, the Highway code states that ‘windscreens and windows must be kept clean and free from obstructions to vision’.
“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.”
Fitting and using your satnav
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.
- You must be in proper control of your vehicle at all times, so make sure you programme your satnav before setting off.
- If you find you need to make changes to your route, find somewhere safe to pull over and stop. Never re-programme the satnav while you are driving.
- Make the most of the satnav’s spoken instructions, particularly in complex urban settings. It is simply not safe to have to look at the satnav screen while trying to get through an unfamiliar town with lots of junctions.
- At the end of a journey, protect your property by always taking the satnav with you. Thieves may spot the rubber sucker marks or the plastic mount on the windscreen and may assume you’ve concealed a device in the car somewhere.