Increasing numbers of drivers are choosing to fit in-car cameras or ‘dash cams’ to their cars. If you don’t own one, the chances are you know someone who does, or have spotted them in other drivers’ cars. But how do you know if you should have one? And which are the best dash cams available?
The easiest way to think of a dash cam is that it’s like having a passenger in the car, who can act as a witness should an accident occur. The devices are cameras that typically mount on a car’s dashboard or windscreen and record video footage on a loop. If you’re involved in an accident, that footage can be invaluable for you, insurers or, in serious circumstances, the police to establish who was at fault.
Given that the Insurance Fraud Bureau estimates there are 30,000 ‘crash for cash’ incidents each year – where, for example, an unscrupulous driver slams on the brakes of their car, causing the following vehicle to hit them – it’s little surprise that more drivers are plugging in dash cams to safeguard their reputation and insurance policy. Here’s what you need to take into consideration when buying a dash cam.
Dash cams can help lower a driver’s insurance premium
However, drivers must first check with their insurance provider whether they offer any discount. They should also bear in mind that they have to agree to provide footage on request. If an injury occurs as a result of an accident, the police will become involved, and have the authority to take and use any footage as evidence.
Most dash cams are powered by a 12-volt input
As most cars have one 12v socket in the dashboard, and drivers often wish to charge their phone or satellite navigation system, it’s wise to invest in an adaptor. This allows more than one electrical item to be powered at a time. Maplin and Amazon offer a wide range.
Where should dash cams be positioned?
Regulations say that dash cams can’t be mounted in the area of windscreen directly above the steering wheel. Neither should they intrude any further than 40mm into the glass area that is swept by the car’s windscreen wipers. Also ensure that if the unit features an inbuilt screen, it should be switched off when driving. It is against the law for drivers to view video-playing devices while driving.
Which are the best dash cams for less than £100?
The Sunday Times Driving tested and compared 16 dash cam cameras and concluded that the Cobra CDR 820 (£79.99) was the best dash cam for less than £100: “For under £80, this is a great product offering sharp video, clear audio and the basic features. It also comes with an 8GB memory card.”
Auto Express tested and compared 12 dash cam cameras and named the Transcend DrivePro 200 (£90.54) as the best buy for under £100: “Footage was recorded at a wide angle in full HD, and looks great whether you view it on the device’s built-in screen, on a smartphone via WiFi or the app, or by watching it on a TV or PC.”
Which are the best dash cams for over £100?
It was the Garmin Dash Cam 20 (£169) that performed best out of dash cams for more than £100, in Auto Express’ view: “Neat and compact, it offers HD recording, a small screen for replaying footage and the ability to take still shots as well as video. This adds GPS, to pinpoint where footage was recorded.”
The Sunday Times Driving was most impressed by the Nextbase In-Car Cam 402 Professional (£149.99). Scoring the maximum five-star rating, it was judged to offer “Outstanding video quality in all lights plus a lot of features for mid-level money, as well as a potential 12.5 per cent insurance saving at Swiftcover.”
More information: What to look for when buying an in-car camera or dash cam