Dash cameras seem to be everywhere these days, leaving you to beg the question – ‘should I jump on board with this new trend?’ With road accidents becoming increasingly common, it’s easy to see why so many drivers are tempted to take precautions.
Dash cams are video recording devices which can be attached to the dashboard or windscreen of your vehicle in order to record its surroundings and obtain footage of everything that happens on the road during your journey. Dash cams can either be single lens, only recording what is going on in front of your vehicle, or double lens, allowing for a second stream to be recorded either of yourself driving or of the road behind your car.
How Do They Work?
The camera can be charged through your vehicle’s cigarette lighter, and attaches to the car’s surface using a suction mount. As you drive, footage is recorded onto a microSD card located inside the camera. This can either be set to record on loop, meaning that it will record over any existing footage when it reaches capacity, or not, meaning that you will need to offload or change the card in order to continue recording. There are various additional features which may be available on certain models, such as audio recording to allow you to capture sound as well as video, GPS so that you can pinpoint the exact location of an incident, and night vision for when you’re travelling in the dark.
What Are They Good For?
A dash cam provides a great source of evidence in the event of a crash, as it offers a neutral perspective on events allowing you to quickly decipher who was at fault. This can be invaluable when facing a false accusation or when attempting to make an insurance claim. Rather than resorting to a messy “he said, she said” argument, a dash cam can provide you will a solid and objective perspective on a situation.
Attempts at vehicle insurance fraud are becoming increasingly common due to easy pay-outs with little questioning, where the “victim” tends to be favoured over the driver. If you’re the target of insurance fraud, it could result in you having to pay out and losing your no claims bonus, which is not only unfair – it’s a financial burden you have to bear for the rest of your life. Dash cams can save you from sticky situations such as this by providing the valuable evidence you so desperately need in order to prove your innocence.
It may feel as though installing a dash cam is an unnecessary hassle for most of us, and that may be true depending on your profession, how often you use your vehicle and what you use it for. However, as with insurance, dash cam footage is something you hope you’ll never need, but you’ll certainly learn to appreciate if you find yourself in a sticky situation.
Are They Legal?
This question very much depends on the local laws in your state or country. Although dash cams in some form are legal in the majority of countries, in certain places they breach surveillance or data protection laws, making them illegal. It is therefore advisable to brush up on your local regulations before purchasing and installing a dash cam to be certain that you are within the bounds of the law.
Many countries allow video recording but have different rules for audio, so this may affect how you should set up your device. If you’re concerned about this point, you may want to disable the audio to save yourself getting into any trouble. If you do record audio, be sure to inform anyone who may be caught on the recording in order to cover your back legally.
You must also be careful to ensure that your camera does not obstruct your view out of your windshield, as this can result in dangerous driving conditions and can often land people in hot water when it comes to the law.
Can A Dash Cam Bag You Discounts On Your Insurance Policy?
Whilst the majority of insurance providers do not offer discounts for those of us who install dash cams in our vehicles, there are a handful of companies in certain countries which are starting to recognise the value of these devices and are offering reductions accordingly.
However, as there is no resounding evidence thus far to prove that dash cams lead to safer drivers, a majority of insurance companies continue to view them as a source of information rather than a deterrent to accidents occurring. This unfortunately means that it’s unlikely they’ll all jump on board with this trend of discounting insurance policies in line with dash cam installations any time soon.
Can the Footage Really Help You Win an Insurance Claim?
Some insurance companies do indeed accept dash cam footage as evidence in insurance claims, meaning they can become important sources of information when you’re making or disputing a claim. However, some insurance providers maintain that dash cams only provide a limited picture of what happened, resulting in dash cam footage being disregarded in some cases. The width of view and quality of picture will both be important factors in determining the usefulness of your footage in ascertaining what happened in an incident. Often, the cause of an accident is not captured by a dash cam but rather just the accident itself, making it difficult to figure out the source or assign blame.
Dash cam footage tends to be useful as supporting evidence rather than indisputable proof of who is at fault. Unless the camera happens to catch someone who is very obviously at fault, the footage is generally considered to be only as useful as photographs of the scene following the incident. This is not to say it isn’t useful, only that it may not be the “ get out of jail free” card it is so often lauded as – it’s much more complex than that.
As dash cams are a relatively recent phenomenon, many providers do not have an official policy on the use of their footage in making claims. It tends to be considered on a case-by-case basis, where the quality and relevance of the footage will be taken into consideration.
Dash cams can come into their element in personal injury insurance claims, as they are able to provide solid evidence on factors such as the severity and impact of a crash. Without this footage, the damage to the vehicles is often used as a marker of the impact of a crash, although this is often not representative of the impact on the driver or passengers in many cases.
Some models have sensor functions, which allow the camera to start recording in the event of movement. This can be useful if damage is done to your car when it is parked or unattended, as it allows you to prove to your insurance company that the damage was inflicted by someone other than yourself.
Dash cam footage can also provide valuable, objective evidence in the event of a hit and run, meaning they can help you to protect others on the road too.
Useful But Not Essential
As you can see, the benefits of having a dash cam are varied. Whilst there’s no harm in owning a dash cam, it is only partially useful when it comes to helping you out of a sticky situation.
On the other hand, the benefits can be significant in certain cases, and as these devices are relatively inexpensive, they can make a good investment – especially for those of us who are heavy road users.
If you rely on your vehicle for work, then a dash cam is more likely to come into its element. Although there are no immediate benefits of owning a dash cam, the peace of mind and security it provides in case of an incident can really make it worth its while.
You can find more information on dash cam reviews here.