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Do you know the law regarding your in-car gadgets? Find out with Trust My Garage

Although many vehicles now offer in-built technology such as sat-nav, upgraded sound systems and changeable cabin lighting options, motorists can still opt to adapt their in-car experience to suit their needs and preferences.

The range of technology on offer for drivers to put into their vehicle is wide-reaching, but it is key for motorists to ensure they have correctly installed, positioned or integrated their add-ons to their motor – and to have notified the proper authorities where necessary.

If you’re looking to add some additional tech or equipment to your vehicle’s cabin, the Trust My Garage blog is here to help to ensure you comply with the rules of the road – read on to find out more!

Dashboard Cameras

Commonly known as “dash cams”, these in-car cameras have been popularised as a form of authenticity for recording road incidents and accidents. For proper installation, a dash cam must be fixed behind the rear-view mirror to ensure it doesn’t obstruct your view while capturing both lanes of the road ahead.

Once attached as per the manufacturer’s instructions, a power lead from the dash cam can then be carefully fitted around the edge of your windscreen to the dashboard, ensuring your view of the road remains perfectly clear of wires and cables. If your vision is impaired in any way by your dash cam, your vehicle insurer may refuse to pay out if you are involved in an accident.

As well as potential insurance issues, driving with any obstruction on your windscreen which could limit your field of vision may land you a £100 on-the-spot fine, as well as three penalty points on your driving licence. If your case goes to court, you could also be charged with a maximum fine of £1,000.

Satellite Navigation (Sat-Nav)

UK laws around sat-nav placement are not as specific as laws in place for other technology, such as mobile phones, but vehicle installation warnings advise that your sat nav shouldn’t:

  • Interfere with vehicle operating controls or obstruct a driver’s view of the road
  • Be placed in front of or above any airbag
  • Be positioned where it could distract a driver if it falls from the windscreen

If you travel abroad with a removable sat-nav, before using it you should always check local laws to see if there are specific rules in place – for example, in France it is illegal to have anything in your vehicle that warns you of traffic enforcement camera locations.

When installing a sat-nav device, you should ensure first that the driver’s seat is in the same position as it would be when driving, as placement while sitting in a different position can affect visibility while on the road. You should try to mount your sat nav low down on your windscreen to the far right to maximise your view of the road. If this isn’t possible, opt for the lowest point in the middle of the windscreen.

If you decide to use a mobile phone as a sat-nav alternative, remember you cannot touch it while the vehicle’s engine is running and the keys are in the ignition; this breaks UK laws and can leave you subject to a £200 fine and six penalty points on your licence. Some motorists find a phone holder positioned in their vehicle’s vents helpful, as they can see the screen for directions without having to touch the handset.

Air Fresheners

Much like dash cam rules, air fresheners which dangle from your vehicle’s rear-view mirror can leave you subject to a fine of up to £1,000 and three penalty points on your licence. The Highway Code outlines that “windscreens and windows must be kept clean and free from obstructions to vision.”

It may seem extreme that an air freshener could be the main factor behind a fine, but if it contributes to a lack of vision which leads to a crash, you could be charged.

Windscreen Chips or Cracks

Windscreen chips are an almost-inevitable factor of driving, and in major cases can even lead to an MOT failure if left unattended.

In the driver’s line of vision, a chip or crack more than 10mm across is enough to fail an MOT. For reference, that’s slightly less than the size of a 5p coin. In other areas of the windscreen, if the damage is larger than 40mm (4cm), the vehicle can also fail its MOT.

If you are stopped by the police with either of these issues you could get a fixed penalty notice fine. If you crash your vehicle because you couldn’t see properly through a chip or crack in your windscreen, then you can be charged with driving without due care, and attention and potentially have your insurer refuse to pay any claims.

Many insurance policies can repair windscreen chips or replace cracked windscreens at a reduced cost. If this applies to your policy, details of the service provider your insurance company uses will be provided within your policy documents. You can make a note of the number for windscreen-related claims and keep it handy in case you get a chip and need to contact the repair company.

Keeping your Vehicle Safe and Roadworthy

To ensure you’re keeping your vehicle’s cabin safe, you should evaluate for any risks to your view whenever you are in your vehicle. Always fit any new technology legally and as per the manufacturer’s instructions, do not touch your mobile phone handset while you are driving and take time to ensure your view isn’t obstructed by any items in the cabin, or chips and cracks in your windscreen.

 When it comes to technology in your vehicle, the Department for Transport (DfT) have said: “Vehicles have become inherently safer with more warning systems alerting the driver to maintenance issues and growing safety focused automation and driver assistance systems. At the same time advances in car infotainment systems and mobile phone technology mean that there are increasing sources of potential distraction for drivers.” Their concerns are that infotainment and mobile phones are leading to a failure to reduce road casualties in the UK.

If you’re concerned about any aspect of your vehicle’s safety, you can visit your local Trust My Garage member and ask them to check your vehicle is safe and roadworthy. You can even find your nearest member online and read reviews from other customers to make sure you get a service to suit your needs – try it out here:

More about Trust My Garage

Trust My Garage is a collection of Britain’s trusted local garages – each one different and all dedicated to the highest standards of skill and personal service.

All garages in Trust My Garage are members of the Independent Garage Association (IGA), which is part of the RMI, one of Britain’s oldest motor trade organisations. IGA members are true professionals who have to comply with a strict code of practice.

Every customer of all Trust My Garage members can rely on using a nationally recognised brand to help you and your vehicle get the best value service for you and your vehicle. If you want to find out more about Trust My Garage, visit our website, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Owner of a new car? Then reap the benefits of independent maintenance!

Perhaps the most telling sign of our recovering economy is that 2013 saw the highest number of new car registrations since 2007, before the world was plunged into the doom and gloom of the global recession.

uk number plate

Figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers show that 2,264,737 new cars were registered in 2013, and December marked 22 months of consecutive growth, a statistic that’s unparalleled across Europe and makes the UK the second strongest automotive manufacturer, behind perennial manufacturing powerhouse Germany.

Motorists lucky enough to own a new car will want to make the most of the technology at their disposal, and that means receiving the best maintenance at the best price.

Independents vs franchised dealers

It’s a common misconception that having your new car serviced at an independent garage will void your warranty, and that you must go to a franchised dealer. This is absolutely not the case, and in fact under European Law, the Block Exemption Regulations give you the right to have your vehicle serviced, maintained and repaired at an independent garage of your choice, without invalidating your warranty. This is as long as the independent garage services the vehicle according to the manufacturer’s schedule using parts which are of “equivalent quality”, which all Trust My Garage members comply with.

So, what are the benefits of having your new car looked after by an independent garage? Well, the most obvious one is the cost saving you’ll enjoy. New cars don’t come cheap and it’s likely you’ll have invested a serious amount of money into yours, so why needlessly waste money going to a main dealer? The Independent Garage Association recently polled 2,000 of its members and the statistics are quite startling. The poll showed that the average labour cost is just over £40 for independent garages, whereas the same rate for main dealers is currently much higher.

It’s only natural to assume that the cost saving will mean a sacrifice in quality, right? Wrong! Members of Trust My Garage have access to the same level of technical information and parts as main dealers, and train their staff to the same levels too. There is no compromise on the quality of work you’ll receive at an independent garage, meaning you’ll receive both great service and fantastic value.

It’s also worth pointing out that you’ll have a far more positive experience at an independent garage, which are often family fun businesses, because they rely on your continued custom, and will go that extra mile to ensure you keep going back. Main dealers don’t rely so much on retained customers, and more often than not you’re just another statistic. Technicians at independent garages are well and truly part of the local community, they’ll shop at the same grocers at you and take their kids to the same school as yours. By choosing an independent garage you’re reinvesting money back into your local community, which can only be a good thing!

Don’t fall for the myth that states you need to have your vehicle serviced at a main dealer. By going to a local trusted independent garage you’ll not only receive a level of service that is at the very least is on a par, but you’ll also save yourself a lot of money at the same time, money that can go towards your next new car!

Visit the Trust My Garage website to find your nearest member. Each Trust My Garage member has all the skills and technical expertise required to give your vehicle a thorough service. Members of Trust My Garage are true professionals, complying with a strictly code of practice. What more, all members of Trust My Garage are independent garages – local independent businesses which are part of the community. Trust My Garage is the truly independent scheme for independent garages.