What Is A Dash Cam?
Last Updated on June 3, 2021 by Gabriel Goddy
Have you heard of dash cams? If you haven’t, we’re here to tell you all you need to know about dish cams. We intend to make it as simple and understandable as possible. Read through this guide to find out what dish cams are.
What is a Dash Cam?
A dashcam or dash camera is a small device that is attached to your vehicle, usually on the inside of your windshield or on your dashboard. The device is used to record what’s in front of your vehicle at all times that your car is running. People use dash cams to record traffic activity to capture any important events, such as a crash. In many cases, dashcam footage can be used to prove fault in an accident, get out of a traffic ticket, etc. There are also rear-facing dash cams, but the front-facing style is the most common.
Why Do People Use Dash Cameras?
What is a dash cam’s actual purpose, though? Why do people purchase and use these devices? There are a variety of reasons, including:
Car accidents – it’s useful to have an actual recording of an accident happening, whether you are involved or not. It can be useful for insurance purposes and proving fault in an accident.
Traffic violations – in some cases, dashcam footage could be used to prove that you were not at fault in traffic violations, potentially getting you out of a ticket.
Insurance fraud – unfortunately, insurance fraud is quite common, nowadays, and drivers are often targeted. If you become the victim of an insurance fraud scheme, having video evidence can be invaluable.
Driving skill – it’s sometimes useful to record your own driving to become a better driver. Additionally, some parents use dash cams to record their teens’ driving activities.
Cool footage – sometimes you can get lucky and catch a lightning strike, freak accident, or other interesting event unfolding in front of you.
How a dash cam works
To put it simply and briefly, a dashcam records a variety of data and stores it for a period of time, which can be used later if there’s an accident or road rage incident to prove that you’re not at fault. (We’re assuming you’re not at fault; more on that in a second.)
The dashcam obviously records video, but most also record audio. Many of the more advanced units come with GPS, which can be used to determine vehicle speed, and some come with accelerometers that can sense a crash and preserve the footage taken just before the accident.
Almost every dash cam will record as soon as it gets power — so when the car turns on, and the cam is plugged into ignition-controlled power, it’s recording. Beyond that, there are a huge number of variations. Some have LCD screens built-in, so you can review the footage without having to plug the unit or memory card into a computer.
Most have built-in flash storage, and many are expandable. When the storage runs out, the camera just overwrites the existing data.
A good dash cam will function similarly to a standard video recording device, with one exception: they are designed to continually delete footage to make room for new recordings. So, you might have an SD card installed in the camera that can hold about 12 hours of footage.
Once you reach the storage limit, the device will start recording over the oldest footage, allowing for a continual record of all your driving activity. The theory behind this is that 99% of the time, you’ll never need the footage – and if something happens, all you need to do is remove the SD card and store the footage on your computer.
That’s fine; no one needs to see you run errands a few days before an accident occurs. If there’s footage you’d like to save, just make sure to offload it before it’s overwritten.
Advantages of a dashcam
Having a dashcam in your car means supporting evidence at your fingertips – should you be involved in a car accident or witness one.
The devices are conveniently placed to observe the whole of the road ahead, therefore any accident which you happen to see or be involved in is going to be recorded.
Most authorities in the UK now accept dashcam footage as evidence. They can therefore be used to prevent future accidents by reporting reckless and dangerous drivers.
Road rage, drink driving and other dangerous behaviors behind the wheel are prevalent. However, a dashboard camera can help police and other law enforcement punish offenders before the worst-case scenario happens.
- Review and Perfect Driving Skills
One of the great things about dash cams is that you can review your own personal driving habits and learn from them. Perhaps you sometimes cut corners or take turns a little too fast. When you’re driving, you need complete focus on the act of driving so you might not realize how you can improve. Watching your driving afterward, however, you’re not actually driving so you can take more time to notice just how you’re driving and what you might be able to improve.
If you have a child that’s learning to drive, this can be a great teaching tool to point out any mistakes they might make an offer improvements. A new driver is much more likely to make simple mistakes than a longtime driver, even if some longtime drivers might fall into some poor habits.
- Reduced insurance premiums
On a more positive note, a dash cam can have cost-effective benefits for you as a driver. For example, lower insurance premiums.
Some insurers are recognizing the preventative nature they have and offer a discount if you state that you have one fitted in your car.
Aviva pioneered this by including a free dashboard camera for drivers who take out its discounted black box insurance. AXA and Swiftcover do too. Both offer a ‘dashcam insurance discount’ when you get a quote and prove that you have one installed on your car (Swiftcover specifies that you must have a Nextbase make).
- Encourage safe driving
The power a dashcam has to reward safe driving and punish dangerous habits behind the wheel naturally encourages drivers to use one to make better decisions.
Going back to the Aviva example, its technology for its car camera provides you with a score after each journey. A higher score is given to those drivers who show that they’re responsible when they take to the road. In turn, premiums can be reduced by the insurance company the more times this happens.
- Business Owners and Fleet Managers Can Track Their Vehicles Efficiently
Businesses can greatly benefit from implementing a dashcam system on their fleet vehicles. There are currently several insurance companies giving discounts and some outright requiring the installations of dash cams just to get an insurance policy.
Imagine this… You have a fleet of vehicles and have a strict “no mobile phone use while driving” policy. How do you actually enforce this policy without physically being in every vehicle; all day long, with your drivers? Without a dashcam, this is impossible. Well, if you plan on turning a profit that day it is. If you utilize the technology, you will easily be able to see who is, and who isn’t following company policy.
Disadvantages of a dashcam
When you consider the above, it’s hard to point out any disadvantages of having a dashcam fitted to your car. However, here are a few to consider.
While a dashboard camera can be a reliable and handy device for capturing evidence of road accidents, it can also be a method of distraction while you’re driving.
It would be rather ironic for a device that is intended to document accidents to cause one, but it isn’t unheard of.
Because they are positioned on either the windscreen or dashboard, their presence can create a blind spot while driving. Especially as most of them are rather hefty in size. It can be much like having a phone or tablet in your car, minus the endless notifications.
Dash cams are for the most part positioned in plain sight of passers-by, which could encourage car theft. The 12v socket which powers them can be easily dismounted, too. While this is unlikely to happen, it’s something to be aware of if you’re thinking of getting one.
- Potential to invade privacy
Finally, there’s a danger with dash cams that you may invade a person’s privacy.
This is particularly a risk with devices that have Wi-Fi because the ability to upload footage to social media is at your fingertips. This is something to consider, especially if your footage contains vital evidence which should only be used in court proceedings.
So, in short response to the question, “Should you get a dashcam?” the answer is yes.
The pros far outweigh the cons.
The important thing to remember is that the dashcam is there to keep you safe. It’s designed to keep people on their toes and held accountable for their actions. If you have just one incident that requires insurance to step in and you need to determine fault, the dashcam will have paid for itself.