Dashboard cameras, or dash cams as they more commonly known, are enjoying a big sales boost in the UK. Part of this is drivers wanting to record fun drives or track days, but increasingly they are being used to record drivers' behaviour in order to prevent insurance scams and highlight poor driving.
There are many different dash cams on the market, with prices starting from as little as £25. Most of them are secured to the windscreen with a sucker in the same way as most aftermarket satellite navigation systems. This makes them easy and quick to install and also to remove for security when you park and leave the car. Other models fix to the rear-view mirror to make it harder for other drivers to spot.
Power comes from the car’s 12v lighter socket, so you don’t run the risk of the camera running out of power just when you need it most in the event of a collision.
Size and shape
When buying a dash cam, most buyers prefer ones finished in black as it makes them more discreet. The smaller a dash cam is, the easier it is to position it where you want, but make sure any dash cam you buy has a resolution of at least 720p to give a decent picture when it’s played back. For good night driving quality, a resolution of 1080p will be needed.
Look for a camera that has ‘loop’ recording, which means it will record over previous footage when the storage disc is full rather than just stopping. This means the camera will record the most recent events. You can download footage you want to keep and then re-use the disc.
Also look for a camera that has auto-start, so that it starts recording when you turn on the car’s ignition. This saves you having to switch on the camera every time you get in the car, al though dash cams with this function are more expensive.
Once you've fitted your dash cam, you will be able to enjoy re-watching scenic drives or you can use to record any collision you may be involved in. Criminals often employ ‘bash for cash’ or ‘flash for cash’ scams to fraudulently claim money from other drivers’ insurers.
'Bash for cash' is where a car cuts in front and brakes suddenly, causing the innocent driver of the car behind to crash into the back of the criminal’s vehicle. The criminals then claim for more damage than was actually caused, as well as for whiplash and loss of earnings.
A ‘flash for cash’ scam is when a car flashes its headlights to let an innocent driver out of a junction before driving into the side of the unwitting driver’s car. Without a dash cam, it’s almost impossible to prove the criminal flashed you out of the junction.
However, with a dash cam in place, a driver can provide video footage of fraudulent behaviour in both of these situations and the police are prepared to use it as evidence.
As an objective witness and record of the collision, a dash cam is a great way for innocent drivers to avoid a protracted insurance fight. Remember - the camera never lies.