Whilst drivers are being warned that failing to take action with bird mess can lead to hefty charges, it is not just the outside of the vehicle that can get you in trouble.
Under the Road Vehicles Regulations 1986, drivers could leave themselves open to a fine between £100 and £2,500, along with three penalty points if their view is obstructed.
However, Graham Conway, Managing Director of Select Car Leasing, warns that other areas of the vehicle must also be clear to maintain safe driving.
“Many of us can be guilty of leaving rubbish on the dashboard- whether it may be empty bottles, coffee cups or even newspapers – if your vehicle becomes too messy you could land a fine of up to £5,000. You could even serve prison time for your clutter.
“Any rubbish lying around on the floor or on the dash can move around as the vehicle is travelling, and if anything manages to roll its way into the pedal area, it could lead to an accident if it becomes stuck underneath the brake or distracts the driver.
“If a crash results in serious injury or even death, this could earn you a lengthy ban and see you risk prosecution.
“Whilst there is no specific rule in place that prohibits people from having rubbish lying around their vehicle, being careless can still lead to serious consequences.”
The Highway Code outlines that “windscreens and windows must be kept clean and free from obstructions to vision.”
However, Select’s Conway argues, “Whilst having items on the dashboard can be a risk, there is no specific rule against having items on the dash.
“And it’s all about having an unobstructed view from your windscreen.
“This goes for items like sat-navs, air fresheners, as well as cracks or chips in the windscreen which can interfere with a driver’s peripheral vision.”
He adds, “UK laws around sat-nav placement for example are not as specific as laws in place for other technology, such as mobile phones.
“However, 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 or be positioned where it could distract a driver if it falls from the windscreen.”
Dominic Smith, the Director at Patterson Law, the UK’s largest road traffic offence specialist, says, “It is not automatically an offence simply to have a dirty vehicle. If the vehicle is so dirty that it means you cannot read the registration plate, or that you can no longer see the lights or indicators, then that could be an offence of driving with a vehicle with a defect, which usually carries a fine, unless the defect is such that it causes a danger to other road users in which case it would carry 3 points.
“What you do need to be careful of is if the windscreen or windows are dirty. There is an offence of ‘driving a vehicle whilst not in proper control or without a full view of the traffic ahead, which carries 3 points and a £100 fixed penalty. It’s the same offence that could be charged if you were eating or smoking whilst driving, or driving in flip-flops.
“There is no automatic definition as to what ‘not having full view’ means, it will be dependent on its own facts. It doesn’t just apply to dirty windscreens, but also frosted windows, iced windscreens and even placing a satnav holder in the wrong place.”