Poor satnav positioning threatens road safety, warns GEM

Satellite Navigation systems


Poor positioning of satnav devices on car windscreens is posing a significant threat to road safety, says breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist.

Today’s large screen devices positioned in the middle of car windscreens mean a potentially dangerous reduction in driver visibility, especially on left hand bends and at junctions, according to GEM. 

GEM chief executive Neil Worth comments: “Sat nav devices are great for reducing a lot of motoring stress and showing you the way on unfamiliar journeys. But if in the process you’re obscuring a large part of your field of view, then you are taking a risk as well as breaking the law.

“A typical large screen satnav device measuring nearly seven inches (17cm) wide by four inches (10.48cm) high has the potential to cause significant restrictions to 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.”

Department for Transport advice is that nothing should intrude more than 1cm into a 29cm-wide strip of windscreen directly in front of the steering wheel, or more than 4cm into the rest of the area swept by the windscreen wipers.


  • Ensure you position your satnav so that it won’t affect your view of the road and your ability to drive safely.
  • The safest place for a satnav is low down on your windscreen, and to the far right, to minimise obstruction of your field of view.
  • If this is not possible, then it may be acceptable in the centre of the windscreen, but you should position it as low down as possible.
  • 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, or other locations where deploying an airbag may contact them.
  • 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.
Chris Price
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