It seems like everyone is suddenly talking about dash cams. The world seems to have gone from knowing little or nothing about these mini big brother devices to being totally obsessed with them but how useful are they?
Spy Vs Spy
The origin of this new technology really started in Russia and Eastern Europe, it seems some drivers were so fed up of being cut up and crashed into they started filming their daily driving. This meant that when the inevitable crash did happen and it was not their fault they could prove it. Of course it had the added bonus of catching a multitude of videos of the meteorite strike a few years back so the dash cam got some great celestial PR to kick things off.
As you can imagine, filming every second of every trip you ever take is going to use up and fair bit of memory. Dash cams have employed various techniques to get around this, early versions just had to be wiped after every journey which must have been somewhat of a pain. Later versions work on the rough idea that they keep recording over the last bit of driving if nothing happens. it is assumed once an incident happens the driver or passenger would hit the button and save the footage. Naturally they don’t record over the footage ever few minutes but given a longer period of time it seems the best solution. In the future there will be cloud based cams and other ways to store info but for now it seems hitting a button after a crash is the best solution.
The idea of combining a dash cam with Sat Nav seems a sensible one and makes like Garmin have done just that, it means you have a function nav system that just so happens to have a dash cam rather than buying a purpose built camera. The Road Angel group have just launched their Halo Dashcam with a parking setting, this allows it to record when the car is left unattended. This is actually a very good idea indeed, especially if you own an expensive car as that famous Aston Martin keying footage shows.
The obvious downside of a dash cam is rather a grey area. Even the best drivers make mistakes every now and again, they might get a speed limit wrong or worse, they might cause a small shunt in a traffic jam. If these people are proudly sporting their “it won’t be my fault” dash cam they might just end up incriminating themselves. The system is geared towards protecting yourself and making sure you get your compensation if someone else hits you, but as the cams become more and more common people will start realising it works both ways. The days of a Judge spending an entire court session reviewing 15 people’s dash cam footage can;t be far away. Drivers would do well to remember that a lot of dash cams can measure speed too, and many are connected to the internet using mobile technology, it is not a big leap to imagine the law enforcement agencies using them to keep tabs on drivers speed as well as other things.
The Right Place and Right Time
Dash cams are generally a great idea, if you travel in Europe a lot or you live in a big city and spend your commute dodging cyclist and crazy taxi drivers then they make sense. However, for the road users in less intense environments they might just be a little bit of overkill. There is nothing wrong with them and all power to people who feel safer with them but we are some years away from every single driver having the beady eye of a dash cam mounted atop their binnacle.