When stepping into a vehicle, the last thing anybody wants is an accident. The reality is that driving is highly dangerous, and in many countries car accidents are one of the biggest killers.
If you’re lucky enough to survive an accident, then the next hurdle can often be the legal aftermath. With insurance companies placing high stakes on car accidents, from compensation claims to hikes in payments due to dangerous driving, it is essential that you are able to fight your ground should you be involved in a crash.
One of the best ways to protect yourself as a road user is to install a dash cam. With legal disputes over road accidents and confrontations increasingly common, it’s no wonder that the sale of dash cams is steadily on the rise. So what are the key benefits of investing in a dash cam?
A Source of Evidence
A dash cam provides a great way in which to record undisputable first-hand evidence that can support your case in the event of a car accident. Solid video footage is one of the best ways to protect yourself from the nightmare of a legal battle over a road accident. If you find yourself in a situation where you are being blamed for an incident that wasn’t your fault, or if the person to blame is shirking their responsibility then dash cam footage can give you the legal foothold you need to obtain justice.
Acts as a Deterrent
If someone is tempted to take their road rage out on you, then the simple presence of a dash cam can be enough to make them see sense and back down. Knowing that their antics are being recorded, most people are sobered into civility. By reducing the wrath of an aggressive driver, you can protect both yourself and your vehicle from harm.
A Form of Insurance
Much like insurance, the whole point of a dash cam is for it to act as a precaution. Although you hope you will never need it, you can rest assured that you have a safety net in place should you face any predicaments on the road. The footage you record can act to second your word in case any disputes arise.
A Third Eye
In the event of an accident, memories can often be blurry as everything tends to happen so fast. It is not uncommon for those involved to genuinely not know the cause of the crash, so in such cases dash cam footage cam be invaluable in clearing up the situation and ensuring that the guilty party is held to account. In some cases, it is able to prove that external factors caused the accident, allowing both parties to be let off the hook. Car accidents can result in expensive repairs or replacements and potential loss of earnings for those who rely on their vehicle for work. For this reason, it is essential that the relevant insurance provider is pinpointed and contacted swiftly to ensure an efficient resolution.
What to Look For in a Dash Cam
When it comes to purchasing a dash cam, the sheer array of options can be dizzying to say the least. There are certain features that are essential and others that are superfluous, so here’s a breakdown of what you should look for when purchasing a dash cam.
The main purpose of your dash cam will be to record video as supporting evidence in case of an incident, so the picture quality is paramount when it comes to selecting your device. Blurry, lagging or pixelated footage is no use when you need to pinpoint what is happening in an often chaotic and fast-moving scene, so it is advisable to opt for a camera that can record full HD, or 1080p, to avoid such pitfalls.
Field of View
Similarly to image quality, the field of view is essential when it comes to getting a clear picture of the scene. You should opt for a camera that records at least a 150-degree view and you should ensure that your dash cam is positioned correctly to get a full view of the action outside of your vehicle. It is possible to purchase dual-facing cameras which record both the exterior view and an image of yourself driving. These can be useful in obtaining a full picture of an event, but are not essential.
Many dash cams do not actually attach to the dashboard as may be expected, but rather to the windshield using a suction device. These are often better than the sticky mounts used for dashboards, as they are easier to move around without losing traction. It is essential to ensure that your dash cam mount has a firm grip in order to avoid it falling off and distracting you whilst driving.
An aspect that many people forget when it comes to dash cams is the storage – where will all of the footage be recorded to? Many cameras come equipped with a removable micro SD card, the size of which should be considered in keeping with the length of your average drive or commute.
Typically, 32GB is more than adequate for most users, but for those taking longer journeys it may be best to opt for larger cards, anywhere up to 128GB. It is best to check whether your camera comes with a memory card or whether you need to purchase one separately.
You will also need to regularly clear or offload the footage onto a computer in order to make space for new recordings. Alternatively, most devices will have a setting for loop-recording, where they automatically record over footage when the card becomes full. This is a useful feature, but it means you must be careful to remove the card following an incident to ensure that your footage does not end up getting lost.
Audio can be a thorny topic, as in some countries recording audio on your dash cam has the ability to get you into trouble with the law. If you do opt for a camera with audio, be sure to check your local rules and regulations.
Usually, if you inform any passengers that audio is being recorded, you will be in the clear, and audio recordings can provide a valuable part of the evidence – particularly in cases where words are exchanged between parties.
A Sound Investment
Dash cams are surprisingly affordable and increasingly available. With so many benefits of installing a dash cam, from protecting your legal rights to securing your safety, a dash cam really is a sound investment for any road user.
Is It Worth Buying a Dash Cam?
Dash cams are all the rage at the moment, but are they really worth the money? The relatively cheap price of dash cams could explain the willingness of the masses to jump on board and, although they are not the magic cure-all that some people make them out to be, they certainly do come with some significant benefits.
Why Do People Use Them?
The main reason that people use dash cams is as a precautionary measure in case of an incident whilst driving. In the event of a crash, accident or confrontation, the footage that can be captured using a dash cam can become valuable evidence as to who was at fault. This is useful in making and refuting insurance claims, and in catching perpetrators of incidents such as hit and runs.
Dash cams can be very useful as a means to prove that you were in the right in a road incident, and the footage can be used to catch perpetrators of an incident in case they get away. The footage may also be useful in proving that external factors caused an accident rather than careless driving on your part, which can be invaluable when seeking to maintain your no claims bonus, or even when being faced with criminal charges.
Dash cams have the advantage of ensuring that the users drive more carefully, as their own activity is also being recorded. They may also help to dissipate situations in which road users become aggressive, as they may be more willing to back down if they are made aware that their antics are being recorded. However, this is not generally considered to be the main purpose of a dash cam.
What Are the Downfalls?
One of the key problems with dash cams is that they generally do not act as a deterrent to accidents but rather a passive source of evidence. For this reason, the majority of insurance providers do not recognise them as a tool for safer driving and therefore don’t offer policy discounts for those who are using them.
Another issue is that although dash cams may be appropriate for recording the crash itself, they often fail to capture the environment surrounding the crash as they only face in one direction. For this reason, their footage is not always admissible as evidence in a claim case. As many dash cams record on a loop – taping over any footage on the memory card as soon as it becomes full – this can also be problematic as there is a chance they will record over essential evidence rendering them obsolete.
What Functions Should You Look Out For?
Some models have a built in accelerometer function, which allows them to sense when a collision may be about to occur and automatically save the preceding footage accordingly, eliminating the problem of losing footage due to the loop setting.
Another useful feature to look out for is GPS, which allows the device to determine driving speeds and the impact of a collision. This can be invaluable in an insurance claim case as it allows you to prove facts about the incident which are not normally available. Whereas many insurers look to the condition of a vehicle following a crash to ascertain the impact, this is not always representative as modern cars tend to withstand damage more readily. In such cases where the passenger experiences significant impact but the car remains generally intact, dash cam footage is a great way to demonstrate the true force of the crash.
Another useful but non-essential feature is an LCD screen, which is handy in case you want to watch and review footage on the move. This can allow you to quickly clear up confrontations on the spot and reduces the time-wasting that comes with another driving refusing to accept responsibility.
Whatever you do, you should certainly look out for a model with good video quality – full HD is recommended. After all, what use will the footage be if it is blurry or pixelated?
So, Are They Worth the Investment?
Dash cams do come with their advantages, but also a number of pitfalls. Whilst the average occasional road user is unlikely to reap the benefits of having a dash cam, those who use their vehicle daily for work or live in a heavy-traffic area such as a city or busy town centre may have more reason to invest in a dash cam.
Dash cams are one of those tricky devices that you never need until you do, and when you need it, it’s too late. If you like to err on the side of caution and have a particular distrust of other road users, then a dash cam could be the perfect purchase to provide you with the peace of mind you need. Whereas, if you lean towards the opinion that it’s not worth the hassle, then a dash cam probably isn’t for you.