Dash cam in car capturing footage of a grey car ahead

Daily congestion and traffic can make driving feel more like a battleground than an easy trip from A to B. As a result, drivers are starting to fit in-car video cameras, or dash cams, to their vehicles.

There’s good reason to have one. It’s effectively like having a witness with you at all times. And if you’re in an accident, it can provide an impartial view of events to help assign blame and settle a car insurance claim.

What’s more, the Insurance Fraud Bureau estimates there are annually 30,000 ‘crash for cash’ incidents where fraudsters deliberately cause crashes to claim off the innocent drivers’ insurance. A dash cam can help catch those crooks out.

And what about all the times you leave your car unattended? Whether you park up to nip in the shops, or leave your car in one of those ridiculously small parking spaces, it’s impossible to have eyes on your vehicle 24/7. You’ll need a dash cam with a Parking Mode if this kind of surveillance is important to you. Be aware that some form of professional installation may be required.

Fitting a dash cam

Most dash cams are very easy to fit: use the rubber suction cup supplied and stick it to your windscreen. You can then power it by plugging it into a suitable power point (USB, cigarette lighter, etc…)

As it’s using the car as a power source, the dash cam should start recording when you turn the ignition on, and stop when you turn it off.

If you find the rubber suction cup keeps falling off, use a double-sided sticky pad to hold it on.

Using your dash cam

Most dash cams have different sound and video quality options, so it’s a good idea to set the device to record the highest video quality possible. If your footage is needed, it’ll only be a few minutes, and tiny details that can be picked out due to high definition recording might prove invaluable.

Most dash cams record on a loop, recording over old footage when the internal storage or SD card fills up.

If you’re in an accident, a dash cam can help settle a car insurance claim

Some drivers choose not to record sound at all, but it can be very useful to have audio to go alongside video footage in the event of an accident or dispute.

If you are recording sound, or taking video inside the vehicle as well as outside, then it’s only polite to let any passengers know up front.

Are dash cams legal?

Yes. In the UK, dash cams are completely legal.

As long as your camera does not block your view of the road, then it is legal to have it installed in your car. Recording members of the public (and their registration numbers) is legal too. In the UK there is no expectation of privacy while in public.

Which dash cams are worth buying?

Here are five that tick the right boxes:

1. Nextbase InCarCam 512G

Critics can’t get enough of the 512G from Nextbase. It has been awarded a Which? Best Buy, and came up trumps in a comparison with seven other dash cams carried out by Auto Express.

2. Cobra CDR 835

Drivers who don’t want to spend more than £100 on a dash cam will struggle to beat the CDR 835 from Cobra, according to The Sunday Times Driving, which calls it a ‘low cost winner’. The picture is awarded five out of five stars, but the lack of a GPS tracking function holds it back from an overall five star score.

3. Transcend DrivePro 220

With a package that includes a 16GB memory card and GPS tracking, plus camera-based nice-to-haves such as lane departure warning and forward collision alert, Transcend’s DrivePro 220 has earned positive reviews.

4. Garmin Dash Cam 55

Tech magazine T3 ranks the Garmin as its top pick. It’s compact, but packed full of features including GPS, lane departure/forward collision warning and speed camera alerts. Importantly, video footage is also crisp and clear in daylight, and holds up pretty well at night too.

5. BlackVue DR650S-2CH

Claiming to be one of the world’s most sophisticated dash cams, the BlackVue features forward and rear facing cameras. A Sony camera sensor is used to deliver clear video footage, day or night, and an intelligent parking mode captures any incident when the car is left unattended.