Watch where you put that camera

More and more fleets are fitting cameras onto their trucks. They are doing so with the best of intentions, to improve safety and also ensure fault in accidents can be ascertained. There are two types of camera being fitted and both can create issues in the way they are fitted to the truck. The rear facing camera can create legal width issues and the dash cam can cause problems in relation to visibility rules.   T2014_0347   Rear facing cameras fitted at the rear of a truck to give the driver a picture of what is directly behind the truck do not cause issues and there are plenty of safe places to fit them. However, rear facing cameras fitted to the side of the vehicle need to be carefully placed to avoid non-compliance with the Heavy Vehicle (Mass, Dimension and Loading) National Regulation 2013.   As we know, the rules state the maximum width of a truck must be 2.5 metres. There are pieces of equipment which are exempted and are able go out beyond the 2.5 m limit. These are listed as: anti-skid devices mounted on wheels, central tyre inflation systems, lights, mirrors, reflectors, signalling devices or tyre pressure gauges.   No mention of cameras there, and even though the camera is clearly a piece of safety equipment, strict interpretation of the rules will put any truck with a camera outside the 2.5 m envelope in breach of width regulations.   Unfortunately, in the trucking industry, we are all too aware of road side enforcement officers who will strictly adhere to the letter of the law when it suits them.   The advice to workshops looking to fit new cameras to trucks in a fleet, is to make sure any fitment does not take the truck dimensions beyond 2.5 m.   T2010_1191   Dashcams seem to be flavour of the month at the moment and do serve to illustrate bad driving issues as well as exonerate drivers wrongly blamed in traffic incidents. However, fitting the camera inside the cabin has to be carefully planned to avoid the camera or monitor being deemed to interfere with the driver’s field of vision.   There is no national standard for assessing what is and what is not deemed as the driver’s field of vision. It is left to enforcement in the individual states and territories. Trucks stopped for inspection may well get pinged if the camera is not carefully situated.   Anecdotal evidence suggests officers will accept a dashcam mounted at the bottom of the windscreen, if centrally placed. However, there has been reports of drivers told to remove dashcams set up centrally at the top of the windscreen.   Dimension requirements under the Heavy Vehicle National Law are set out in simple form by the NHVR on its website.

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Author: Tim Giles

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