As dashboard cameras come down in price, with basic models costing around £50, they are becoming a more and more common sight in new and used cars. Both private owners and the motor trade find them useful and reassuring.
The cameras are unobtrusive, with a long battery life, and most record in a continuous loop, so you don’t have to worry about filling the memory card. Some cams can detect an incident worthy of recording, so you won’t lose important footage. The resolution is sharp enough to capture details of number plates or trade plates. Many drivers fit both forward and rear facing cameras, to capture any incident.
In 2015, an announcement was made by several major insurance companies, they would now accept dash cam footage as evidence in the event of a claim, thus causing a sharp rise in sales. Depending on your insurer, purchasing and installing a dashboard camera might even reduce the cost of your insurance policy.
By providing clear evidence of what happened in an accident, rather than relying on accounts from often shocked and stressed drivers and witnesses, camera footage can help insurers and police, and simplify a claim.
Camera footage is also cracking down on the increasingly common practice of insurance fraud, in which, for example, a driver deliberately brakes sharply, causing a shunt from behind, in order to claim for vehicle damage and injury.
Dashboard cameras can help with minor offences, too. We often witness dangerous or illegal driving, but few of us report it. That would require remembering or writing down the other vehicle’s registration number, and the police are unlikely to pursue the incident without evidence. Now, dashboard cameras are helping to track down offenders who use a mobile phone at the wheel, or drive aggressively.
Simply having a dash cam installed can act as a deterrent. If another driver becomes aggressive following an incident, letting them know that you have recorded evidence can be enough to calm them down.
Installing a camera might even make you a better driver yourself, and more aware of potential incidents. This means a dash cam can be a useful investment if you let the kids borrow your car.
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There are more pleasant uses for dashboard cameras, too. As resolution improves, it has become possible to take footage you’ll want to keep. Have the dash cam rolling during your holiday to record spectacular scenery and twisting roads. Make sure to bring extra memory cards so you don’t override each stage of your journey with the next.
If you are travelling abroad, be aware of local laws. Some countries, including Austria and Switzerland, have banned or discouraged the use of dash cams due to data protection laws.
Finally, as with other valuable items like sat navs, you should conceal or remove your dashboard camera and any accessories, for instance base pads or suckers, when you leave your car unattended.