What are they?To give them their full title, dashboard cameras do exactly what you think they do. Mounted on your dash or attached to your windscreen, they record video and audio while you’re at the wheel. You can spend anything from £20 to £250 on one, and it goes without saying that the more you pay, the more features you can expect. From greater recording capacity to things like Quad HD capability, GPS and G-sensors which detect impacts, there’s a lot to look out for.
What are the benefits?
If you have a dash-cam in your car, you’ve effectively got an eye witness on board at all times. This can help to protect you against fraudulent claims in the event of a collision, as your video evidence can help to prove you did nothing wrong if that was the case. Dash-cams can also put off thieves, as they record locations as well as video, while in 2015 dash-cam footage helped to convict a dangerous driver who evaded police but was turned in by a worried member of the public.
Insurance companies may well offer you a discount if you have a dash-cam, as the footage you capture can quickly and effectively settle any disputes that arise from an accident. This is also good for you, as it can help to get you back on the road sooner and may save you from losing some or all of your no claims bonus.
Are they legal?
The simple answer is yes, they are. Even though they effectively record unsuspecting members of the public without their permission, dash-cams are legal on UK roads. If you’re going on holiday in your car to a different country, it’s a good idea to check the local laws just to make sure you don’t come a cropper. And make sure you don’t install your camera in a way that blocks your view of the road, as that could get you a fine whichever country you’re in.
Are there any downsides?
Well, that depends on how you look at it. The same way that dash-cam footage can come riding to the rescue when you’ve been wronged, it can also bite you back when you’re in the wrong yourself. The police can ask to view your footage if they pull you over for something, and a quick check at what you’ve recorded could quickly disprove your claim that you were mindfully obeying the speed limit.
Should I get one?
You may think that if you’re a sensible driver, then the chances that you need a dash-cam are lower. This isn’t the case, as even the most careful motorist can become involved in an accident that wasn’t their fault. It’s a sure-fire way to add an extra layer of protection to your time at the wheel, and could pay dividends if you come to rely on it. Look out for a camera that has a battery built in that you can use to take pictures outside your car, get yourself an SD card and choose one that can connect to Wi-Fi, as they usually have the best usability.