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. As they’re battery operated, a dash cam can keep watch if other drivers clip or vandalise your car, even when you’re not around.
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:
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.
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.
The good people at Practical Caravan praised the ‘excellent optics’ of the MiVue 658, and noted that with an optional ‘smartbox’ the camera could be set to record when the owner isn’t with the vehicle - to film vandals and parking scrapes.
Speed limit recognition was a feature highlighted - this plays back any footage, and helps prove the driver wasn’t breaking the speed limit.
The Nextbase InCarCam Duo is clever because it features two lenses - one for the front of your car and another for the back - so you can record footage from both angles. Plus, the camera at the back of your car has a 50m zoom, so it can clearly record vehicles and the faces of drivers.