In-car cameras or dash cams as they’re more commonly known are rapidly becoming the must-have gadget for drivers. The increase in the number of ‘crash for cash’ scams, where criminals prompt prangs to make hefty compensation claims, is causing law-abiding drivers to fight back.
The cameras, mounted in the windscreen, record events in front of the car. A recent survey by consumer organisation Which? showed that nearly two thirds of drivers were considering fitting one.
How do in-car cameras work in theory?
By recording everything that happens in front of you on a continuous loop, in-car cameras ensure that you’ve got an accurate record of events as they unfold. But you need one that can accurately recognise when an accident has happened and store the images: you don’t want your precious footage to be recorded over shortly after the event. Therefore quality cameras have an inbuilt shock sensor so that they know when the footage they’ve just recorded is worth keeping.
How do in-car cameras work in practice?
The cameras are smaller than sat nav screens and mount on the dashboard or windscreen. They record onto a memory card. If you want to see the footage, you can remove these and put them in a computer. Some have their own screen for instant playback; some connect to other devices using wifi and/or Bluetooth meaning you can send images to a mobile smart phone or to your email account. They are powered by plugging into the car’s 12v supply.
What information should in-car cameras give?
They should have both a GPS and G sensor. The former will give the exact coordinates of where the incident occurred. The latter will show any sudden movements such as an impact, but more importantly it will record how you have been driving, with speed, acceleration, cornering and braking data. It could all help to prove that you’re a responsible driver. The camera should also show the date and time of any incident.
What to look out for when buying an in-car camera
There are multiple dash cams on the market with prices ranging from about £50 to £300. The most important thing is image quality. There’s no point having a camera if the picture is so blurred you can’t make our registration plates or models of car. And it should work as well at night as it does in day light. The shock sensor needs to be sensitive enough to detect an accident. Some aren’t. You also need to have a wide angle lens. It’s no good if you have a crash and the camera can’t view the action. Make sure you get one that will view as near to 180-degrees as you can.
Can an in-car camera be used as evidence?
Video can be used as evidence but it must be of good enough quality to show clearly that the other vehicle caused the accident. It must also depict the date and time when it was taken and the footage can’t have been edited or tampered with.
Are in-car cameras worth it?
This technology came from the transport sector where companies have used dash cams for some time to help cut accident rates and insurance premiums. Simon Marsh, managing director of camera company Smart Witness said: “Just two per cent of the collisions caught on our in-cab cameras were disputed, against an industry norm of 40 per cent. That proves how effective they are as evidence.”