Will having a windscreen camera mean I'll fail my MOT?

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Car Clinic Windscreen cameras

Q. A few years ago I had a camera fitted to my windscreen so I would have video evidence in the event of a collision or fraudulent insurance claim. Previously this has caused no problem at the MoT test, but before my most recent inspection my garage removed the device, saying my car would have failed otherwise. Why is this, and would refitting the camera be breaking the law?
RW, Inverurie, Aberdeenshire

A. The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (Vosa, now replaced by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, or DVSA) wrote to all MoT test centres in March to clarify the rules relating to windscreen obstructions, which may explain why your camera was removed. In simple terms, a car may fail its MoT if there is damage or an obstruction in the “swept area” of the windscreen greater than a 40mm diameter circle. In “zone A” — a 290mm-wide band of the screen immediately in front of the driver and centred on the middle of the steering wheel — this is reduced to a 10mm-diameter circle.

There are exceptions. Any fitting that’s original to the car cannot result in failure, and if an obstruction affects only the driver’s view of the sky or the bonnet, it’s not deemed to be a problem either. The only grounds for failure should be if the obstruction is impairing the driver’s view of the road.

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There is no blanket ban on windscreen-mounted devices such as sat navs, cameras and air-fresheners. According to the DVSA: “A vehicle can pass its MoT with a device attached, providing it does not hinder the view from the driver’s seat. If it does, then the device will need to be removed in order for the vehicle not to fail. If the owner decides to refit the device, then it would be a matter for the police as to what is acceptable.”

The Highway Code is not as specific as the MoT test, stating simply that “windscreens and windows must be kept clean and free from obstructions to vision”. If you were stopped by the police or involved in an accident, the position of a camera or other windscreen-mounted device could potentially be an issue.
Sunday times driving car clinic: Emma Smith

Emma Smith is a journalist specialising in consumer issues and is a regular Driving contributor – read more from Emma here.

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