Traffic police: keep an eye on everything!

Police Headquarters Münster - Accident prevention

Our guest author Martina Habeck, police superintendent and traffic safety advisor to the Münster police, gives an overview of current issues relating to road traffic regulations. From exterior mirrors & assistance systems to penalties for curiosity seekers, the European eCall and tips for a clear view.

1. All-round overview

The progressive technology makes it possible that in the future more and more series trucks will be on the road, with corresponding cameras replacing the exterior mirrors. This is regulated in the Road Traffic Licensing Regulations as follows:

Section 56 Mirrors and other devices for indirect vision

(1) In accordance with paragraphs 2 to 3, motor vehicles must have mirrors or other devices for indirect vision that are designed and installed in such a way that the driver can look backwards, to the side and immediately in front of the vehicle – even when carrying trailers – all for can observe essential traffic.

The use of cameras and corresponding assistance systems significantly improves the driver’s all-round visibility. An additional maneuvering view simplifies reversing, thanks to the night vision mode, a great help even in the dark. There is also the possibility of a warning system and image transmission if cargo theft is suspected. The elimination of the exterior mirrors should also lead to a reduction in consumption, since the “sleek” shape offers less air resistance.

The first cars without exterior mirrors and only camera-based are planned and should be launched on the market in a timely manner. The advantage of turning accidents, in particular, is that the driver’s image remains constant and the side view is retained even when steering and cornering. Additional warning systems (depending on the version either optically or acoustically) reinforce this positive effect.

2. Privacy

Often there are long traffic jams at the accident sites on the so-called oncoming lane due to “gaffer” who absolutely want to take a look at the accident site and in the worst case even shoot photos and videos.

Such acts are already punishable as follows:

According to Section 201a of the StGB, anyone who makes or transfers an image that shows the helplessness of another person unauthorized and thus violates the highly personal life of the person depicted, or who unauthorizedly takes an image of another person that is suitable to significantly harm the image of the person portrayed, makes it accessible to a third person, is acting illegal.

According to Section 323c (2) of the StGB, anyone who hinders a person in the event of an accident, general danger or need, who provides or wants to provide help to a third party, is punishable. This can be punished with imprisonment up to a year or with a fine. A corresponding behavior in a traffic accident is recorded, for example.

In the event of severe traffic accidents or large locations, emergency services can use privacy screens or privacy fences. If necessary, this would be brought to the accident site and set up there. However, many preventive films and campaigns start elsewhere and appeal to the reason of bystanders to change this behavior in the long term.

3. Visible

The goal of the European eCall is to make oneself visible to rescue workers after an accident. This automatic emergency call is intended to ensure that necessary rescue measures are initiated more quickly. In reality, this means that, in the event of an accident, a voice connection to the responsible rescue center is automatically established. In addition, data from the exact location, the approximate direction of travel and the vehicle identification number are sent. New car types already have a corresponding communication unit (so-called sleeping SIM card), which e.g. is only activated when the airbags are deployed.

The following legal basis exists:

For the gradual introduction of this security technology in Europe installation of the on-board eCall system has been mandatory since March 31, 2018. This installation obligation only applies to new types of vehicles that receive a permit (so-called type approval) in the member states of the European Union. The basis for the introduction of the eCall is Regulation (EU) 2015/758.

So far, help has been communicated either manually via smartphone or via the emergency call pillar. In the future, this process could run fully automatically via the vehicle’s communication system.

4. Clear view

Section 23 StVO: “The driver is responsible for ensuring that his vision and hearing are not impaired by the passengers, animals, cargo or the condition of the vehicle.“

Drivers in Europe-wide long-distance transport in particular live in their trucks day and night. It is a second home for them. It is therefore understandable that they would like to “furnish” the driver’s cab in a comfortable and practical manner. But the rule of thumb is that the view to both the side and front windows must remain unobstructed. Here the driver and vehicle owner are jointly obliged to ensure an unobstructed view from the cab.

Objects that restrict the view of the road, the edge of the road, a cycle path or a walkway must be removed. Because of e.g. curtains, pennants, plush toys, etc. other road users and danger spots cannot be recognized in time.

Martina Habeck

The department for road safety of police Münster informs drivers of commercial goods and persons free by sending regular “information-mails”. We will keep you up-to-date on news and changes in the social rules (driving and rest periods). Information on digital recording equipment, cargo securing and anything that might be important to you, we will pass on to you.
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