British drivers could be leaving themselves open to huge fines and significant penalties on their licences simply by failing to keep their car clean.
Ensuring that your driving doesn’t affect other motorists’ safety is a basic part of motoring but it extends beyond your behaviour at the wheel to how you treat and maintain your car.
While you won’t be fined just for driving a dirty car there are instances where you could fall foul of the law.
Keep it clean
If your car has a dirty windscreen or other glass that affects your ability to see properly you could face a charge of careless driving, especially if you are involved in a crash because your visibility was affected.
Under Regulation 30 of The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986, drivers must keep all glass clear of obstruction.
The law says: “All glass or other transparent material fitted to a motor vehicle shall be maintained in such condition that it does not obscure the vision of the driver while the vehicle is being driven on a road.”
The standard fixed penalty notice for careless driving is £100 and three penalty points but should the case go to court you could face a fine of up to £5000 and as many as nine penalty points.
Affecting other drivers
Neil Greig, policy and research director at IAM RoadSmart, said: “Careless driving is all about penalising the negative impact you have on other drivers.
“If a dirty windscreen is stopping you from driving safely then you should expect to be caught and charged.
“Not having clear vision in low sun situations is a really serious issue.”
In 2016 ‘dazzling sun’ was recorded by the police as a factor in 28 fatal crashes, 463 serious injury crashes and just over 2,100 slight injury crashes.”
And in 2018 a woman was charged with causing death by dangerous driving because her vision was affected by a dirty windscreen.
Hayley Sterna, from Camrbidgeshire, crashed into and killed her own cousin because she did not see him on the pavement. Her vision was impaired because of sunlight reflecting off the dirt on her windscreen. Her car’s washer fluid had also run out, making it difficult to clean the screen.
She was given a 12-month suspended sentence and banned from the roads for two years for causing the death of Chris Clements.