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Product Placement: Is your dash cam breaking the law?
Product Placement: Is your dash cam breaking the law?

Dashboard cameras – also known as dash cams – are increasingly used by drivers to protect themselves from “cash for crash” scams and other fraudulent or disputed insurance claims. However, many of them are quite large, and are designed to be suction-mounted to your windscreen. If you don’t properly position these cameras, you could actually be breaking the law yourself.

A common question from our customers who self-install their cameras is: “Where is the best place to mount a camera?” In fact, various UK laws govern where you locate your camera, how it is mounted, and how you use it. In this blog, we guide you through the legislative maze and explain how to avoid any pitfalls.

Location, location, location

Failing to correctly position a dash cam is a serious traffic offence; most of the windscreen is, in fact, out of bounds, according to the UK Road Traffic Act 1988. The law divides the windscreen into two zones:

  • Zone A is a 290mm area centred on the steering wheel – this is extended to 350mm in goods vehicles over 3.5 tonnes GVW
  • Zone B is the area of the windscreen that is covered by your windscreen wipers when they are active, and is commonly referred to as the “swept area”

No part of the device – camera, cradle, suction cup or cables – should intrude more than 40mm into Zone B. And only 10mm intrusion into Zone A is permitted.

Serious Consequences

If you are involved in a road traffic collision (RTC) and your camera is illegally positioned, you could face a charge of careless driving, or even dangerous driving. A conviction could result in anything from penalty points to up to two years imprisonment.

Additionally, if your dash cam is illegally placed, your vehicle will automatically fail its MOT.

Camera Conundrum

The dilemma here is that the camera lens needs to be within the swept area (Zone B) in order to do its job. With this in mind, RoadHawk cameras have a very low lateral profile. This enables you to mount the camera in Zone B, without breaking the 40mm rule about intrusion.

Alternatively, mounting the camera between the rear-view mirror and windscreen places it completely out of the driver’s view, so it meets all of the legal requirements.

To maintain compliance with the law, we recommend the use of the adhesive mount supplied with each of our cameras, for two reasons:

  1. It is unobtrusive, with a very small footprint
  2. It enables you to position the camera as close as possible to the windscreen – this helps prevent glare and ensures you get clear footage

Our suction mount, with careful positioning, is also legally compliant, but we advise you use this as a temporary measure only.

Trial by TV

Apart from positioning, the other crucial law governing dash cams is those with an LED screen. The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 state that the screens on cameras must not be displaying footage at any time while the vehicle is in motion. If the screen is on and the driver can see it, this is classed as a serious offence. The reasoning is the same as why you can’t use a mobile phone while driving – it is a major distraction.

Rely on RoadHawk

Compliance is at the heart of our design. Our cameras are approved by both Transport for London and FORS, as we meet - or exceed - all of their regulations. For the same reasons, we are an authorised accessory for Volvo Cars UK. Our fittings and guidance comply with the UK Road Traffic Act 1988; and furthermore, none of RoadHawk’s cameras have an LCD screen, which helps protect you from legal issues with distracted driving.

Above all, we pride ourselves on our customer service. If you have any queries about the installation of your camera, our experienced team is at hand to provide expert advice.

Next steps: Click here to view our range of dash cams