Leave room for a view
SENIOR Constable Mark Wood is worried. He has been in touch to let me know far too many cars have obscured windscreens.
And he is not talking about fluffy dice.
Plenty of people still hang trash and trinkets from the rear-view mirror, but what worries him more is the growing number of satnavs affixed to the centre of the viewing area in the middle of the windscreen.
He has a good point. Satnav is a wonderful thing, as you can see from the number of cars now using it, but it has its drawbacks.
It can be a distraction if you start fiddling with it when you should be concentrating on the road. And a satnav unit fitted in such a way as to block your view is even worse.
Carmakers know the hazards. That is why they almost always fit units to the centre of the dash, well away from your line of sight through the windscreen. Even pop-up units such as the one in the Volvo V70 are positioned to avoid obscuring your vision.
The VicRoads website has guidelines for positioning satnavs, but the best way is to position the unit as low as possible off to the driver’s side. If it obscures your view, it’s in the wrong place.
Though I’m in favour of safer driving, I am hooked on the new generation of satnav units. A big test is planned soon and an early favourite is the Navman S-Series Platinum — which, its maker promises, will set a new standard. It is better-looking and we really like its menu system, which uses Go for regular navigation, Find for search for a specific place or business, and Explore to search an area in greater detail. The spoken instructions are more informative than those on other units, and it has 3D lane-guidance.
The S-Series models are not cheap, but if they deliver as promised, a Navman from $429 to $699 — safely mounted and not obscuring your vision— could be a smart buy.
Camera obscura: satnav’s not going to help you drive if you can’t see through the windscreen.