Are badly positioned sat-navs illegal?

I would be interested to know about the rules about fitting aftermarket satellite navigation systems in cars? I have seen them on windscreens partially blocking the driver’s view. Yesterday I passed a driver with the sat nav at eye height right in front of her face. I am concerned that a badly positioned sat nav could obscure a biker along with anything of our size and must be a danger or illegal?
Florence, Leicester, by e-mail

Answer

I cannot find any regulations which refer specifically to sat nav equipment but the following are certainly relevant.

Section 40A Road Traffic Act 1988 as amended by Road Traffic Act 1991 states that “A person is guilty of an offence if he uses, causes or permits another to use a motor vehicle on a road when:-

  • the condition of the motor vehicle or of its accessories or equipment, or
  • the purpose for which it is used, or
  • the number of passengers carried by it, or the manner in which they are carried, or
  • the weight, position or distribution of its load, or the manner in which it is secured,

is such that the use of the motor vehicle involves a danger of injury to any person".

Similarly, Regulation 100(1) of the Road Vehicle Construction and Use Regulations 1986 says broadly the same thing but attracts a lesser penalty.

It would therefore appear to depend on the Court’s interpretation of the word “condition” but obviously people should place them in such a way that they do not obstruct the driver’s view.

Download

Ask the expert (MCN Column pdf)