Dash cam tips for drivers
Dash cams are cheaper, smaller and easier to use than ever before. They also have the potential to make a significant contribution to road safety and to save you money on your car insurance, according to GEM Motoring Assist.
Writing in the Spring 2018 edition of Good Motoring, the quarterly magazine for GEM members, road safety expert Sandra MacDonald-Ames says dash cams offer safety and financial benefits for many drivers.
'Dash cam devices have been popular in the commercial sectors for fleets of vans and lorries, along with emergency vehicles, for a number of years,' she said. 'But until recently their high cost has kept them out of reach for most motorists.'
A surge in popularity and big steps in technology have led to a price drop, and a reduction in size, so they are now affordable for most of us. Properly positioned, they won't restrict visibility and they are readily available online and on the high street, with prices starting at around £25.
Dash cams shot to prominence through their use on the roads of Russia in recent years, and many of us will be familiar with some of the horrific footage captured and shared on the internet, according to GEM. And whilst we like to think our overall standards of driving and safety are among the highest in the world, we still have collisions, and one driver's account of what happened is likely to be different from another's.
Sandra explained that insurers love the clear and irrefutable information a dash cam provides. 'If you're a safe, conscientious driver, a dash cam helps protect your no-claims bonus, as well as guarding against dangerous drivers, road rage incidents, 'crash-for-cash' scams and even minor car park knocks,' she said.
GEM has prepared a selection of questions and answers relating to fitting and using a dash cam.
What is a dash cam?
It's a video cameras that is mounted on the dashboard or windscreen of a car. Genrally powered by the car's 12v system, it continuously records the view of the road and traffic through the windscreen.
How does it store footage?
Typically a dash cam continuously records video footage either on an internal memory or a removable card (such as an SD card). When the memory fills, the camera automatically overwrites the oldest files. So you should be able to set it up then leave it until you need it.
Do I have to tell others that I'm using a dash cam to record?
No. In the UK, if the car is yours and yours alone, and you are not using it for business (such as taxi work), it is legal to use one without notifying anyone else that you're recording.
How many are in use in the UK?
It's believed around three million motorists use a dash cam.
Where's the best place to fit it?
Fit your dashcam in the centre of your windscreen, behind the rear view mirror. Ensure it does not obstruct your forward vision.
What are the advantages of a dashcam?
As fraudulent insurance claims increase, a dash cam provides vital evidence of what actually happened and who may have been involved. Following a collision or incident on the road, a driver's memory of events or the position and action of other motorists can sometimes be unclear, while a dishonest motorist may be less likely to pursue a claim knowing that video evidence is available.
Can I save on insurance?
The installation of a dash cam could see a discount (typically 10% or more) from some insurance company, so it is always worth asking what they can offer.
Can I share my footage of a dangerous driving incident with the police?
An increasing number of police forces are accepting dash cam submissions showing dangerous driving, driving without due care and attention, using a mobile phone, not wearing a seat belt, contravening a red traffic light, contravening solid white lines and other offences where the driver is clearly not in proper control of the vehicle.
Would I need to go to court?
The typical process is that you complete a 'statement' when you upload your footage. This involves answering a few pre-formatted questions. Estimates suggest that fewer than two per cent of people submitting dash cam footage have to attend court. However, if you are not prepared for the possibility of attending court, then you should not submit the footage.
Could the footage recorded on my dash cam be used against me?
Yes. If you're involved in a collision, or are stopped by the police for committing an offence, then officers could seize your dash cam or could require you to present its footage for them to review.
GEM road safety officer Neil Worth says dash cams have a big role to play in helping to make our roads safer. 'Fitting a dash cam is a good move for road safety,' he said. 'Once installed, it's good to know it can protect you in incidents where it might otherwise be your word against someone else's.
'But however helpful a dash cam may occasionally be, we still encourage everyone to drive with the original GEM values of care, courtesy and concentration. These cost nothing, and if every driver committed to upholding them, then we would see a significant and sustained reduction in the number of people killed and seriously injured on our roads.'