A dashboard camera can come in handy on long trips.

Should you get a dashboard camera?

September 6th, 2016 by

A dashboard camera can come in handy on long trips.

Dashboard cameras – personal video recording devices mounted on car dashboards – have been growing in popularity all over the world over the last few years. While previously found largely in areas of the globe like Russia and Eastern Europe where traffic law is less strictly enforced (the evidence of which can be seen from the countless hours of accident videos uploaded to YouTube), in North America their use has increased as the technology becomes cheaper and people get more comfortable with video documentation.

"They really are for every driver," Bill Gremminger, owner of DashCamUSA.com, told the Allstate blog. "I have seen statistics that 50 percent or more of accidents that take place happen within five miles of one's home. I can unequivocally say that once you own a dash camera, you will always own one."

Should you install a dashboard camera in your vehicle? Before you go out and buy one, here is what you should know:

They may help in insurance claims
If you are in an accident, all the evidence and documentation you can provide will help support the accuracy of your claims. Modern dash cams are often equipped with a GPS and timestamp feature, making it easy to reliably pinpoint the location and time when a clip was filmed. While not a required feature of most policies, having first-hand video evidence to corroborate your account of a car accident or traffic violation can lead to a finding in your favor.

Take care to not get distracted
Video cameras mounted on a dashboard are often easy to adjust on the fly. If you need to capture a driver beside you on video, the car ahead of you or even an angle over your shoulder, this can be done with a simple swivel. However, this is not advisable when traveling at high speeds, as it can be easy to become distracted. Wait until you have come to a safe stop before you readjust your camera.

They may deter incident escalation
Aside from acting as documentation, dashboard cameras have a psychological effect that can deter the escalation of an incident. If a driver near you thinks they are being filmed, they are more likely to act responsibly and steer clear of you to avoid their bad behavior being caught on tape. Similarly, the cameras are a great tool for parents to keep an eye on younger or new drivers and incentivize them being on their best behavior on the roads. 

Cameras are almost always filming
The way that video storage is maintained on dashboard cams is that they typically have a replaceable HD memory card – 32 GB is a common size – that can hold up to 5 hours of video. The camera is turned on when you begin your journey and is continuously shooting video, powered by your car's cigarette lighter or auxiliary power source. Once it reaches the end of its storage, the camera will begin overwriting footage from the start of the loop. Most cameras will allow you to save clips from being overwritten as well.

They are a great way to preserve memories
Beyond acting solely as a safety and fraud preventing feature, dash cams can be a way to have a record of the fun times with family and friends on a road trip. Preserve those cherished memories of singing along to goofy songs, car games or just sharing stories to pass the time.

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