Should I Use A Dash Cam?
Most drivers will experience a minor bump in their cars at some point in their lives, this is why we have insurance and usually the situation is dealt with quickly and fairly. However, drivers can sometimes fall victim to bogus insurance claims and dash cams provide unbiased, video evidence of exactly what occurred ...
What is a dash cam?
A dash cam will record what is happening around your vehicle should an incident occur, and you need evidence. Footage is recorded as soon as you turn your car on and is stored on an SD card, when this card becomes full, the dash cam will just start recording over it on a continuous loop. There are many different types of dash cam available to buy which will have all or a mixture of the features below, so it is important you decide what you would like your dash cam to be capable of before you buy;
- Front/Rear Facing Camera - all dash cams are generally made to record the view out of the front of the windscreen. There are some that will record both the front view and the rear view, so you can capture anything that happens behind your vehicle. There are some dash cams that are designed to record a bird's eye view of what is happening in the cabin of your vehicle. These cameras are usually only used for those who drive taxis.
- Sound Recording - many dash cams will record the sound inside the cabin, most will have an option to turn this feature off. Many drivers feel it is too much of an invasion of privacy to have every conversation recorded. If you leave this feature working you would need to make sure any person in your car was made aware that they were being recorded.
- GPS - most dash cams will have a GPS tracker. This will record were an incident occurred, the speed at which you were driving and the journey up until this point. This information could be useful in giving a complete overview of the events leading up to an including the incident itself.
- G-Force Sensors - You can purchase dash cams that will automatically protect recordings when a sudden impact or collision has been detected, preventing this footage being recorded over until you have it safely downloaded.
- Night Vision - Dash cams will be enhanced to make sure footage collected at night is still of high quality.
- Parking Mode - Even when your car is turned off there are some dash cams that will be waiting to detect any impacts. This makes it more likely that if any vandalism has taken place overnight or another vehicle has driven past and knocked your wing mirror off, they can be identified.
- Wi-Fi - many dash cams now come wi-fi enabled so footage can be downloaded instantly to a smartphone or tablet via an app.
The quality of video footage will also vary wildly from camera to camera. It would be advisable to get the camera with the highest quality picture you can afford, as the higher the quality, the more likely your footage could be used by insurance companies if a claim arises.
How do I fit a dash cam?
A dash cam would ordinarily be fitted on the windscreen. You need to make sure there is no possibility that the dash cam is obstructing the drivers view or you could be breaking the law. The preferred place is behind the rear view mirror where the least obstruction is caused. To hold the dash cam in place there is either a suction cup or double sided sticky tape.
The dash cam will then need to be connected to a power source. You can trail the wire around the windscreen and plug it into the 12V power source (cigarette lighter) or if you prefer you can get your dash cam hardwired. To hardwire a dash cam involves connecting the device to the vehicles on board electricals via the fuse box, if you are not confident to do this yourself you should make sure you get a professional to carry out the work.
You will need to check whether the dash cam you choose comes with an SD card, if not make sure you purchase one or you will have nowhere to record data to! It is advisable to have a spare SD card in the vehicle anyway, so if an incident occurs the current SD card can be removed and kept safe until the footage has been downloaded and the spare card used in this period.
Is it legal to use a dash cam?
There are not laws preventing the use of dash cams in the UK. In fact, dash cam footage is now used by police and in UK courts as evidence if required.
However, please be aware that the law on dash cam use varies widely from country to country due to differing privacy and data protection laws. For example, in Luxembourg you can legally own a dash cam, but it is illegal to to use a dash cam to capture still or moving images in a public place such as on a road. You will need to check the laws of the country you are travelling to if you intend to leave your dash cam recording.
Will a dash cam reduce my insurance costs?
Some insurance companies will lower the cost of your insurance by 10%-20% if you have a dash cam fitted, as they believe it will encourage you to drive more safely yourself and will help prove fault should an incident occur. This is only some insurance companies; many will not make any reductions for use of a dash cam so it is worth shopping around if you are hoping to save some money.