Dashcams are a great way to protect yourself on the road from dangerous driving, providing evidence to accidents and showing dangerous drivers, and although cheap dashcam options are there on the market, many of us are left wondering why we can't just video with our smartphones instead.
You can use your smartphone as a dedicated dash cam, all you need is a dashcam app and a smartphone holder to keep your phone's camera steady and out of vision as you drive. However, there are some cons to using your phone as a dash cam which you would need to consider.
So to help you figure out whether or not you want to use your smartphone as a dash cam or buy the real thing, we have put together a short guide as to how you can use your smartphone for this and the pros and cons of doing so below as you can get an idea of whether or not it is a viable option for you.
To use your android phone or iPhone as a regular dash cam, you will need two things; one is a dash cam phone app that will effectively turn your phone into a dashcam for the road, and the other is a smartphone holder that can be mounted either as smartphone dashboard holder or onto your windshield; this placement can be trickier and is not legal if it obstructs your view.
You will additionally need a charging cable for the phone that stretches to the cigarette power outlet on your car, as your phone will need to stay with power at all time to record hours of video like a traditional dash cam.
A dash cam app will allow your phone to have the feature specs of dashcam such as loop recording, GPS, time/date, estimated speed and even adjustable video quality.
These apps tend to only cost £1 or a little more and have some pretty neat features which will make you wonder why you would need a genuine dash cam at all.
Like normal dash cams they will also save your footage to your phones SD-memory card or cloud storage service for review later, so you would need to ensure you have enough storage for all the video feed.
Now, if the dashcam apps are so good, you might be wondering why anyone is buying a real dash cam at all if you can just use a smartphone dash cam and avoid spending any extra money.
Well, dash cam apps aren't all so accurate as they miss out on useful legit dash cam features such as parking mode which watches your car when your not around and g-force sensors which support collision detection and impact sensors, turning the dashcam on automatically when they sense motion.
Dash cam apps additionally are only as good as the quality video camera which is on your phone, so if your phone has a bad camera, the video coverage will also be poor. Some apps may also shut off when receiving a text or call which can interrupt video files, and worst of all, you will have to remember to switch it on every time!
So in terms of the app acting as an actual dash cam, they are not very accurate at all.
If you still want to go ahead and use your dash cam phone to protect you on the road and help with insurance claims, then you will need to make sure that your phone is set up correctly and in the right position to avoid it obstructing your view or having a poor coverage of the road ahead.
We have listed some short steps below that will guide you on how to set your dash cam phone up.
Now we know how to set our smartphone as a dash cam and more about dash cam apps, we can round up our article by comparing the advantages and disadvantages of making your smartphone into a dashcam, and whether or not they match up to high-quality dash cams on the market.
One of the first advantages to using your phone as a dashcam is that the footage is already uploaded on your phone, making it easy to transfer via apps such as we transfer and more, these apps also save you money rather than forking out for a real dash cam, where popular dash cams can even cost up to £400.
A smartphone dash cam is also more portable than a hardwired dash cam, allowing you to take it in and out of the car to avoid it being stolen.
Unfortunately, there are quite a few drawbacks to using your phone as a dash cameras lens, one of the first negatives is that you have to remember to switch them on every time, you also can't use your phone for navigation such as google maps at the same time.
Phone mounts are not as secure as dash cams too, this means the dash cam footage can appear shaky, and there is also a risk of the phone flying out of its mount if you have to brake hard during potential collisions.
Your phone is more of a target than a dashcam for thieves too, meaning you have to remember to dismount every time you leave your car, it's more susceptible to overheating and the angle its records will not match the coverage of a dash cam.
As a whole, the functions of a dashcam cannot be compared with a smartphone, as a dashcam is designed to record the road with no interference needed, while a smartphone is designed for multi-functional use, not solely a camera.
Only use your smartphone as dashcam if you have to, but we would always suggest using the real thing for the best video capture and dash cam duties.
Overall, you can use your phone as a dashcam with a dashcam phone app, a long USB charger and a sturdy phone mount, however, they are not as convenient as real HD dash cams and need a lot of setting up to match the functions of dash cameras.
A decent dashcam that gives high-quality dash cam footage can be an investment for some, but with benefits such as evidence in accident proving you weren't at fault and lower insurance costs, the advantages of buying a dash cam can be tempting.
With dash cam models improving on the market and coming with better features such as LCD screens, higher-quality recording of 1080p and parking modes, the money spent on these dash cams is nothing compared to the value you can gain.
However, there are some disadvantages of dash cams that might make road users argue they aren't worth the cash, so to help you out, we have composed an informational guide below that will discuss why dash cams are worth it and also why there aren't so as you can make a balanced decision when it comes to buying your own.
Dash cams are growing more and more popular around the world, with cheaper models now cropping up and dual dash cam models, this way of recording what happens inside our car and outside our car helps give us all peace of mind.
Not only can you record road rage incidents and catch dangerous drivers with your dash cam, but you can also use your video footage to look back at road trips or record taxi disputes (with consent).
The list of advantages to buying a dashcam is endless, so if you have the correct budget and you want to be able to feel safer when using your vehicle on the road, a dash cam is worth the money and a great idea.
Dash cams record footage by using power from your car if they are hardwired in, or by using cigarette lighter output. You can buy dash cameras that run with an internal battery but you will have to remember to charge these models up.
Apart from power, your device will have a camera to record video evidence, along with built-in or removable storage for a memory card so as you can review the dash cam footage.
You don't have to power dash cams on when they are hardwired into your car as they will turn on automatically when the car does, they also don't have fancy settings for dash cam videos and will overwrite old files when the dedicated SD card becomes full to make room for new footage.
If you wondering whether or not you should buy a dashcam, it's a great idea to explore the options that you have on the market first so as you can make sure you are investing in the right kind of dash cam for your needs.
You will likely come across rear dash cams and front dash cams (dual) models, single-channel dash cameras and cheap operational dash cam options. All of which is great for a decent dash cam, but some come with extra features which are worth knowing beforehand.
Basic cheap dash cam models are the best for road users on a tight budget, who just want to record the road ahead of them in case of any accidents.
These dash cameras don't have an interior view or rear view mirror recording and lack any advanced features like GPS or high video quality which more expensive dash cams will have.
But for basic footage of incidents, a cheap dash cam is worth the money.
If you can stretch your cash a little more, an advanced dash camera will come with extra features such as GPS tagging, speed sensors which is useful for police forces to see how fast you were going and audio recording which can be useful for disputes.
Most average dash cam users might not feel like they need these fancy features, but they can become very useful if you are involved in an accident, and might give you the upper hand with evidence that a basic lower footage quality dash cam cannot.
Dual dash cameras are the best type of cams you can get for your car as they record quality footage of what's in front of you, as well as what's behind, which can be useful if you get knocked from the back of your car during an accident for insurance disputes.
These cameras are great for monitoring the interior of a car too, which can be useful for kids who are learning to drive if parents are worried about them when they are behind the wheel of the car.
When looking on the market for a mirror-mounted dash cam, you might be tempted by some of those cheap amazon £20 bargains that you see, after all, all you need is for them to provide you with evidence and basic quality footage, so why not save some cash, right?
Well, no, you are wrong.
Unfortunately, cheap dash cams that are very cheap will often have a poor quality image which can make a road incident hard to study and provide poor evidence for insurance claims, the pixel quality of the cameras are always very low and they don't have any extra features such as dual recording, parking mode or GPS.
But if it's a cheap dash cam or no dash cam, then it's probably worth it.
Now we know all about dashcams, whether or not you should buy one, how they work and what cheap models offer, so as you can tell whether or not a dashcam is worth it, we have put together a list of all the advantages and disadvantages to buying a dashcam below.
Dash cam ownership comes with many advantages that you might not have considered for your money. First of all, these cams give you first-hand evidence of any accident that happens on the road, this can prove you are not a fault and also show if any accidents were staged by the other driver for insurance fraud.
Some of the best quality dashcams will come with a parking mode that can protect your car when your not around too and have GPS that will enable police to find you are your car in an emergency.
For beginner drivers, dashcams will let you study your driving as you review footage if you get a dual model and improve your overall driving behaviour, this can be a great tool for kids who are learning to drive. For creatives you can also record your road trips, save them and look back on them later!
Drawbacks of a dashcam have to be privacy concerns as if you are driving public transport like a taxi you will have to get all consent from your passengers before turning a dashcam on in your car, which is not legal in some places of the world.
These cams can also be a distraction for some drivers if they are not set up properly on the car and can cost a fair amount to buy up-front if you buy an advanced dual camera with all the extra features such as GPS.
Overall, the advantages of dashcams really do outweigh the negatives, and if you can afford them, these devices are worth getting installed in your car to protect you and others when your out driving on the road, just make sure to set them up properly and get consent if your using one in public transport.
Some companies in the UK will reduce your car insurance and give you a discount if you install an insurance-approved dashcam in your car. This is because insurance companies recognise that these types of drivers are likely to be more cautious on the roads and can show evidence if they are not involved with an accident.
What can a dashcam help me with?
A dashcam gives a road user numerous benefits as we mentioned above, from providing first-hand evidence of an accident to watching your car when your not around with parking mode, this kind of cam can save you hassle when it comes to damage of your car.
How much is the average dashcam in the UK?
On average in the UK, a dashcam can cost anything between £50-£400 and above for a high-quality dual dash cam.
What else can I use instead of a dashcam in my car?
You could also use your phone or a Go Pro to record footage from the road in your car, but these cameras are not as suited to the dashcam job as they are less easy to hold in place and you will have to remember to switch them on, the footage you record will also not be overwritten so can use up a lot of storage on your devices.
Overall, dashcams are truly worth it if you want to feel safer on the roads and catch any incidents that can prove you are innocent, the drawbacks of dashcams are very minor and can be avoided when fitted right or when you get consent from the passengers if you have a public vehicle.
These little cams can potentially save you a lot of money from insurance due to the footage they record and spot dangerous drivers on the road.
One of the best advantages of a dash cam is that they need very little maintenance to run smoothly, but one of the key things you need to be doing to ensure your dash cam is working properly is formatting the cards inside.
Without formatting the memory cards of your dash cam, you will likely experience symptoms such as; recording failures, memory card errors, gaps in footage or even corrupt file types. Luckily, formatting your memory SD card is pretty easy, and can be done within your dash cam or on a computer.
We have composed a short article below that will explain how to format your dash cam SD cards for card maintenance along with why it's important to format your micro SD card and how often you should be doing it in order for your dashcam to work how it should.
First of all, before we get into how to format normal SD cards, let's discuss why it's so important to be formatting your dashcam cards, to begin with.
When using an SD card in the card slot of your dash cam, this tiny memory card goes under a lot of stress from continuous footage loop recording, vibrations and temperatures.
Formatting the cards within your dash cam essentially resets them back to brand new and clears all dash cam footage, not only does this open your cards up to more recording space, but it also straightens out any performance issues and saves you time than manually deleting each piece of footage.
Formatting your dash cam SD card should be done at least every 3-4 weeks, as regular memory card formatting will help your dash cam perform better and even prolong its lifespan.
Avoid buying fake SD cards from the internet, these cards will often give you unplayable video files and fail quickly, they could also potentially ruin your dashcam in the long run, look for a reputable brand such as a Nextbase SD card.
So, the formatting process for your dashcams SD card can be done in two ways, one is by reformatting the card on the dashcam itself and the other is by hooking it up to your PC or laptop.
We will start first with how to re-format your SD card within your dashcam.
For a computer or laptop, on the other hand, you will need to make sure you remove the SD card first.
To conclude, formatting your SD card in your dash cam is not something that should be neglected for your dash cam to be working as efficiently as it can. Make sure to format the SD card within your dashcam at least once a month and copy any files over that you want before doing this process.
Dashcams are a smart device which can not only protect us when driving but also help us identify dangerous drivers on the road, however, how do these dash cams work when the car is turned off and parked?
Well, for your dash cam to utilise its parking mode and continue to record dash cam footage while your car is turned off, it will either need to be powered by a battery or hardwired into your cars circuit, most parking modes come with a sensor on a dash cam which can turn on when someone comes close to your car.
To find out more about how you can get your dash cam to work when your car is turned off and why parking mode is important on your dash cam, we have composed a short information guide below that will give you everything you need to know.
So without further chat, let's get into it!
Before we can get into how dashcams record when your car is turned off, it's a good idea to explore the different ways you can power a dashcam so as you can see which type of installation is most suited to you.
A few dashcams on the market are powered by an internal battery, allow you to keep the videos powered even when the car is turned off and parked, this is a nice idea to keep the dash cam running, but does mean you will have to remember to charge it often. These models will also have limited memory cards.
Having hardwired power for your dash cam to your car's battery allows the dash cam to also stay running when the car is turned off, as it draws power from the vehicle batteries, this means you don't have to remember to charge your camera. The downfalls however is that over periods of time, the dash cameras can cause a dead battery for your car, so many people hook their dash cameras up to an external battery pack to avoid this.
Another popular dash cams installation is via the cigarette lighter outlet in the car, however, this will not keep the majority of dash cams running once you turn the car off, as the power will be cut.
It is noted however, there are some modern dash cams such as the modern dash cameras made by Nextbase which have an intelligent parking mode, this allows the expensive dash cams to record a point of motion when they detect a bump without any power.
Parking mode dash cam modes allow you to continue to have the dash cam running while your car is parked and turned off, hardwired cams will then use the battery life from your car to support the video recordings made during parking mode.
Normally, the video footage made from parking mode on your quality dash cams will only be supported for around 1-4 hours till it shuts down, this is because it is using the drivers battery for it to run.
Some more high-quality models will have a cut-off point that will shut your dash cam down when it detects the battery voltage is getting too low from the car, how long it lasts will mostly come down to whether or not you have a healthy car battery.
Parking mode additionally will come in two types, actual impact detection or optical motion detection, the latter is better and found on more expensive models as it can film the lead up to the incident, rather than just when your car gets hit at the moment of impact.
If you want your parking mode from your dual dash cam to last all night then a nice feature to include with your rear dash cam or dual dash cam is an external battery pack.
Dash cam owners who plug their dash cam fitting into an external battery pack can enjoy parking mode video for up to 6-8 hours rather than just a few hours, allowing you to prevent your car battery from depletion and give a higher level of protection for your car all night time.
Hardwiring your dashcam can seem like an effort and needs an installation kit while investing in an external battery pack is not cheap either, so why use these parking surveillance features at all?
Well, having your dash cam on when your car is off not only offers parking protection from theft but also offers optimum protection against non-collision accidents that can happen to your car when your not around, this is due to the fact they can detect motion over a period of time.
We have listed a few benefits you can get from buying a dash cam with parking mode video clips below.
A lot of dash cam owners avoid hardwiring their own dashcam into their car as the process can be quite confusing, but without hardwiring your dash cam or using quality battery packs, you will have to do this anywhere for you to get parking mode surveillance video working.
We have listed out some basic steps for hardwiring your dashcam installation below if you want your smart power device to work while the car is turned off.
Will a lighter power outlet power my dash cam when in parking mode?
No, the cigarette lighter plug or accessory plug will not power your dashcam when the car is turned off as this plug is only powered when the car is switched, meaning you will not be able to use motion parking mode if your dashcam is set up like this.
Does a dual-channel device offer a better level of protection than a single-lens dash cam?
A dual-channel dash camera that has front and rear cameras does tend to offer a better level of protection than a single-channel dash cam does as it can monitor motion not only at the front of your car but also at the back, which is great if you get a hit and run from behind your car and you need to identify the number plate.
Is a dash cam fitting expensive?
No, installation of your pre-purchased dash cam should only be around £30-£50 but might be a bit more expensive if you are fitting both a front and rear dash cam.
The most expensive part of a dashcam is the product itself!
To conclude, a dashcam will only work when a car is powered off if it has an internal battery, connected to an external battery pack, or if it is hardwired into your cars circuit, which is the most popular method.
Do be aware that the cam will use your car's battery power, so make sure that the battery of your vehicle is in a good condition before leaving parking mode on, or use an external battery pack just in case.
Dashcams are becoming more and popular, not only do they protect the driver from liability and insurance, but they can give first-hand evidence of dangerous driving and lead to prosecution if the police forces find the video footage important.
However, sending your dashcam video footage to the police is not all so simple, as these large video files can sometimes have a format size of nearly half a GB, making them not email friendly, you also need to make sure your dash cam footage is legal and worth sending.
Using a dashcam and sending video evidence to the police is legal in the UK, but you must make sure it is installed properly legally, and you follow some tips to make sure your video submission is usable for the police, we will get into some further details below.
Before we can get into how to send our dash cam footage to the police, you need to make sure that the dashcam you are using to record driving is legal, if not, your record of dangerous driving may not be eligible to be used for prosecution.
So, dashcams are legal in the UK, and are encouraged by many insurance companies to have in your vehicle to record careless driving and protect yourself when you are on the road.
If you submit a valuable dashcam video with all the necessary details such as a timestamp and it's in its original format, you can even prosecute a driver for the alleged driving offence through court.
However, although dashcams themselves are legal to have in your vehicle when driving, how you set them up can be another matter.
So as we mentioned above, driving with a dashcam is legal, but you have to ensure that they are set up properly in your car, this means the dash cam should not be obstructing your view when your drive and can't be more than 40mm into the area swept by the window screen blades of your car.
If your driving vehicle is for public use rather than personal use such as a taxi, you will also have to inform the person in your car that you are recording with a dash cam to protect people from privacy concern issues and get consent for filming.
Lastly, to ensure that the video from your dash cam is legal, you must also be driving legally yourself, this means no over-speeding or careless driving, as the court will question you on these offences too, no matter if you have a record of another person committing a traffic crime.
If you have decided that you have legal dashcam footage which is worth sending to the police, before we can discuss how to send it in different ways, there are some guidelines which are expected from the footage with police if you want to be able to be used.
Now we know what is expected of our dash camera footage for it to be legal and used by the police, we can cover the ways you can send it over to the police forces easily and efficiently.
If you just rock up to your local police station with dash camera footage to report it as a traffic offence, the relevant police forces will likely have to take the whole SD card and hold on to it to review the footage, this is where it is handy to follow the ways below to give your footage to the police rather than hand over your whole SD card.
One of the first less popular ways to report an offending vehicle, whether they are over white lines or on the phone while driving, is by sending it through the post. This does however avoid you having to give your whole SD card to the police.
To send your dash camera footage in the post, copy it a USB stick or burn the footage from the video cameras on to a CD, this is required a lot by insurers.
If your insurer lets you, there is no reason as to why you can't try ending your video cameras footage via we transfer service online. You could also use google drive or the cloud, and once your footage is uploaded you can provide the police forces with the link to the file.
With the increase of drivers using dash cameras, many of the companies now have apps which allow you to easily upload the incriminating dash cam footage you have recorded to your phone despite the large file size.
From your phone, you can then try and attach it to an email, but if the footage is still too large, go for a mobile app like we transfer to finish the sending process, this avoids you having to send the video to your laptop and will save time.
To avoid all the stresses above, there is now a dash cam portal online where you can upload your footage too called Nextbase in the UK. All you have to do to send your incriminating dash cam footage is select your nearest police force to your location and upload it, the footage will then be reviewed by traffic officers from there onwards.
You might likely have heard of operation snap if you been looking into drivers operating dash cams and reporting them to the police, many traffic crime-fighter people do this every single time to help the police force.
It refers to a police response to all the police dash cam footage they are dealing with and acts as an online portal like the next base for you to upload the dash cam footage you have recorded when driving.
This portal however is not for sending police dash cam footage of road collisions and only reserved for traffic offences. Light offences such as parking should only be reported to your local council and not uploaded on the operation snap.
What kind of traffic types of offences can I report to the police with dash cam footage?
For the crown prosecution service to protect vulnerable road users, you can report a variety of road traffic offences with your dash cam footage such as; dangerous driving, careless driving, social driving on the phone, driving over white lines, not wearing a seat belt or driving through red lights.
Can your report a drunk driver with dash cam footage?
Yes, you can report a drink driver via dash cam footage as a concerned road user, just ensure your cam is placed in the best location to get the full view of the number plate and make sure that you are adhering to road safety and the camera is not obstructing your view too.
Should you put your footage on social media before giving the police dash cam footage?
Although well-meaning drivers might be trying to alert the public to risk drivers on the road, uploading your revolutionary dash cam video to the internet, does not make you a traffic crime fighter and can ruin the credibility of your video meaning it will become a waste of police time.
With the popularity of dash cam footage on the internet getting a lot of likes, it can be tempting to upload yours too, but if you want to encourage safer driving and report it to the police, refrain from doing this.
What happens if the original recording has the wrong time stamp and date when it recorded the unlawful driving?
Your footage with police submission should have its correct time stamp/location/date, if not you are potentially being a waste of police time, as to prosecute a reckless driver, you will need evidence of when the incident took place.
Will the dangerous drivers know who I am if I report the footage to operation snap?
Reporting your footage to operation snap does not need too many personal details and is a simple form to fill out with basic contact details, in the case that you might have to give a standardised witness statement in court, the reckless driver might know who you look like, but not any name or address details.
To conclude, dash cams are useful to report bad driving and help the police with proper control over traffic crime, they can also protect road users liability during accidents and help identify repetitive dangerous drivers on the road.
Just always ensure that your dashcam is legal before submitting the footage to the police and is set correctly.
Dash cam devices can cost you a fair amount of money, with models ranging all the way up to £400, and when you enjoy the benefits of parking mode, you might be wondering if having your dashboard camera on display could attract opportunistic crime.
Even though it is rare these devices are a target for thieves, this doesn't mean that theft doesn't happen with dash cameras, and due to their obvious location they might encourage entry car theft, this all depends on the model you have too, as cheap dash cams tend to be more obvious, while expensive ones are made to be more discreet.
So as you can understand more about if dash cam theft is a thing and how to prevent it, we have put a short guide down below, that will give you all the info about these dash cam stealing criminals and how to improve the security of your car.
When parking your car and leaving your dashcam, it can attract thieves passing by, especially if you have a large model with a highly lit LCD or flashing light.
Whether or not your dash cameras get stolen mainly comes down to the type of area you have parked your car in too and whether or not your car has some kind of security that will act as a deterrent for thieves such as a car alarm.
Many people don't bother to steal dashcams too unless they are skilled thieves in entry car theft and would know how to remove the hardwiring from a car, but with the huge increase in sales for dashcams this theft is getting more popular.
Although you can never entirely prevent your vehicle from theft or potential vandalism, you can try and implement some security measures and security systems so as you can reduce the likelihood of your dashcam being stolen.
We have listed a few ways below to protect your dashcam and stop vehicle-related theft from happening to you after parking.
One of the first ways you can prevent this type of crime is by keeping it out of sight for criminals. You, unfortunately, can't change where a front dash cam is, as it will always be located by law near your rear-view mirror on the window, which is an obvious weakness for theft.
However, a rear dash cam is much smaller, and you can install these higher up in your car which makes them less visible, the same goes for wedge-shaped types of cameras which are easier to install high.
Tinted windows can also help with privacy for your car and will act as a visual deterrent for your vehicle as thieves would have to come close to look inside.
There are two ways you can go around choosing the design of your dashcam. For example, if you buy a cheap dashcam without any fancy features, this might make it less of a target for a thief if they are familiar with the value of certain dashcams, also, if yours does get stolen, it won't hurt your wallet as much.
However, many criminals who commit this type of theft car crime are opportunistic, meaning they unlikely to know the different worths of dashcams.
Cheaper dashcams are designed to be more obvious than high-quality discreet models which now come very compact. So by buying a more simple device, you could be attracting higher levels of theft than you would be if you brought an expensive cam.
As we mentioned above, these types of theft are typically done by passers-by who see valuables, having your dashcams wires trawled all over your window screen puts your vehicle at risk as it shows there is some kind of electronics in the car for petty criminals.
Always hide the cables of your hardwired dash cam within your car's interior to make it less noticeable, common mistakes such as accidentally showing off your hardwiring system can come with a big consequence.
A simple safety precaution to have on your car is a car alarm, although many thieves know how to disable these anti-theft systems nowadays, for a couple of seconds that they go off, they can act as a theft alert and notify people around a car is being broken into.
Some car alarms can even have security features and can send a push notification to your phone which is very helpful if you are not around.
If you have to park in an area where there is a big theft crisis, make a risk assessment and see whether or not is worth removing the dashcam. Although this can take time and is not the most convenient thing to do, it can stop theft happening from in your car, which is the main thing.
It could be ideal to look for a dashcam with a quick-release clip so as you can remove it quickly when needed.
To conclude, people do steal dashcams, especially if they are designed to be very large and are in an obvious viewpoint in your car for passers-by. It is best as a simple precaution to remove your dashcam if you are not confident in the area you have parked or there is a crime wave and you should always have security on your car such as a car alarm to act as a deterrent to criminals.
We also recommend having a dashcam that backs up footage to the cloud in case it gets stolen this will allow you to see the details of people or masked thieves.
If you have ever considered installing or seen motorists with a dashcam, you might be wondering what the real point of these devices is?
Well, the point of dash cams is to record dash cam footage of your surroundings while you drive on the road, the evidence these dash cameras recordings produce can be used to protect road users by proving innocence in a road rage accident, displaying vehicles speed, exposing insurance fraud accidents and much more.
So even though you might know dash cams can protect a driver on the road, there are also several other advantages you might not have considered, as well as cons, so we put together a short guide below, that will tell you everything you need to know about dash cams and if you should buy one.
Let's start with the basics, a dash cam is a powered in-car camera that is typically mounted to a dashboard or windshield to record the road ahead, they act as a first-hand witness to your car journey and help record dangerous drivers on the road.
These cams will have either one front lens or a two-way dash cam set-up, which can record the rear of your car too, some come with an LCD screen, parking mode and GPS, while other cheap dash cameras might just have a basic front camera set-up with an SD card for the footage.
A dashcam can work in three main ways; one is by the cigarette lighter on your car which uses a cable, the next is via an internal battery inside of the cam and the other is by it being hardwired into your car.
Evidence of road accidents is recorded as dash cam videos on to the memory card of the cam and the card loops over the oldest footage when it gets old.
One of the main features that you should familiarise yourself with on a dashcam is parking mode, the point of this feature is to protect your vehicle when it is at standstill parked.
For peace of mind, a hardwired cam will typically come with motion sensors that will activate the recording when they feel people/vehicles come close to the car this is great if your car gets involved in a parking accident or someone tries to vandalise your unattended vehicle.
So as you can see whether or not there is a need for a dashcam in your car, we have put together some advantages you can get from installing one in your vehicle which you may not have considered, we will discuss the cons too.
Dashboard cameras are growing in popularity, with insurance companies lowering their cost for dash cam users and the court prosecuting people with dash cam evidence against others, these devices are becoming ever so important to have on the road.
A dashboard camera is great as it can help you record two types of accidents; road accidents and parking accidents.
Road accidents can have a lot of post-discussion when there are no witnesses, with each party blaming each other, but with a dash cam footage of everything that happened, you have solid evidence to show to the police if you were not in the wrong, allowing you to save yourself a big headache.
Parking accidents are also quite common, with bad drivers scraping your car door or knocking them in parking spaces, not to mention vandals and thieves who can damage your car when your not around, thankfully, dash cams record all of this on parking mode.
Insurance fraud is actually much more common than you think in high pedestrian areas, many people will purposely involve themselves in an accident with a car so as they can claim a lot of insurance money from you, having dash cam legal evidence of this can show the pedestrian planned the accident.
Some insurance companies in the UK even offer a discount on insurance if you have a dashcam installed in your car.
Many surprising things can happen on the road, and because a dashcam is on at all times, you can capture some amazing video evidence of rare animals or even a meteor which was a popular incident caught by a Russian dash cam.
You can additionally record dash cam videos of a road trip which can be fun to look back on and great to keep as memories.
Whether you want to become a better driver or check how your teenager is driving, a dashcam with an interior view can allow the driver to check how they drive and improve any skills they are lacking on.
Although there are many points to having a dashcam in your car to protect you when in traffic and on the road, there are also a few drawbacks which you should consider before investing in one.
In some places of the world dash cams might not be legal, for example, dash cams legal position in the UK is to go ahead, but they can become illegal if they are not set up correctly and disrupt the driver's view.
If you are a taxi driver it can also be illegal to film if you don't get consent from the passengers as this would be a breach of privacy.
Fiddling with your dashcam or looking at what is recording while you are trying to drive can be very dangerous and even cause traffic accidents themselves, so if you have a dashcam, you have to avoid the temptation of looking at it or moving it.
If you, unfortunately, get into a road incident or spot a dangerous driver on the road and manage to record it all with a dashcam, believe it or not, you can upload it straight to the police via Nextbase which is an online portal for people to upload their dashcam footage to the local police in their area.
Just make sure your footage is clear and worth sending beforehand, always send the original clip too and don't be tempted to put it on social media first.
Do dashcams cost a lot of money?
Dashcams can have a price range varying from £50-£400 depending on the model that you buy and the extra features it comes with such as a rear lens.
Can you take dashcam evidence to the court?
Yes, dashcam evidence has even been used in the crown prosecution court to sentence people to jail before, they essentially act as the first-hand witness to an accident.
Will a dash cam sense crash impact?
Some dash cams have motion sensors while others have crash impact sensors, both will turn the cam on in parking mode if they sense any impact to the car while it's a standstill.
Overall, the point of having a dash cam in your car is to protect you against all the dangerous driving that happens on the road and act as your witness in case any of these accidents involve you. Not to mention they can lower your insurance costs and create some great road trip videos to look back on.
When you buy a dashcam one of the first questions you have is most likely how many hours of footage can your micro SD card in your dash cam record.
The video storage that your particular dash cam can hold all comes down to the size of the micro SD that's within it, the quality footage your cam is recording in and how many frames per second it is, for example, a 16GB durable SD card can hold two hours worth of footage when took at 1080p at 30 fps.
To figure out how much footage your card for your dash cam can hold before the card loops and the card size you should choose, we have put a short guide below that will give you the rundown of all you need to know.
The micro SD card of your dash cam will get fuller quicker depending on a variety of factors such as the frame rate and resolution of the video.
Many different factors affect the micro cards you should choose for your quality dash cam, we will list the average hours of video a standard SD can hold in your cam below however so as you can get an idea of what size you will need to support your dash cam footage.
All cards would be filmed at 1080p resolution and 30fps.
As you can see, the bigger the capacity cards storage is, you can add up around two hours average more of storage. This is all took on average, however, some faster SD cards might differ.
A dashcam will never run out of storage no matter what size SD card you get as they loop over their footage anyway to allow them to record continuously.
What matters however is how much footage the card for dash cam can hold before this rewrite happens, allowing you to capture more video.
Now you might have an idea of what size SD card you should buy for your dash cam we will list a couple of other important features to look out for in your SD card below which are equally as important for your dash cam footage.
What is quad HD footage?
Quad HD footage means a resolution that is four times standard HD.
Which video resolution should my footage be?
Your video footage should be at least 1080P if you want to be able to see things clearly and see detailed information such as number plates.
Are there fake SD cards on the market?
Yes, you should be careful to avoid putting fake SD cards in your quality dashcam as they can cause damage to video files and the camera itself if you are not careful.
Overall, dashcams can hold on average two hours of footage at 16GB, with the addition of two more every time you go up a size in capacity. Always make sure you get a large-sized SD card if you want to hold more footage before it loops and consider factors such as video resolution when picking your card.
Dash cam fitting can be overwhelming for beginners who aren't familiar with wires, leaving most people wondering how much it will cost to get a professional dash cam fitting.
To install the average dash cam in a car can cost £50-£200, this all comes down to the range of dashcam you have, your location and the type of fitting you require, for example, it will cost more to hardwire types of dash cams which are front and rear rather than single.
We have put together a short guide below that will tell you all you need to know about dash camera installation, whether or not you should get it done professionally and alternative ways to fit your dash cam that can cost less.
As we mentioned above, it can cost anything from £50-£200 to get your dash cam hardwiring fitted depending on where you go and other factors.
Some stores such as Halfords may offer a complete package where they provide you with the dash cam as well as dash cam installation which can often lower the cost but this means you don't have a wide pick of models.
Rear-facing dash cam models will cost more as they will have to do a more complicated cam fitting service, but this is a great way to ensure your dashcam comes with a warranty too.
For people who are familiar with wires and are car DIY savvy, you might not think a cam fitting service is worth it when you could install it yourself into your vehicle, but many people opt for this cam hardwiring services as it saves you time.
Getting your dashcam fitted professionally is also great because -
If you don't want to pay to get your dashcam professionally fitted, you could always try hardwiring your dashcam in yourself, but this does require some skills and for you to be knowledgeable of the fuse box in your model of vehicle.
Luckily, you can power your dashcam in a few other ways if you want to avoid the hardwire process.
Overall, we recommend paying to get your dashcam professionally fitted, as not only does this save you time, but also makes sure your hardwiring is done correctly. If you don't want to hardwire your dashcam in, you can always buy a cigarette lighter to fit it or an external battery for power.
If you are planning to hardwire your dash cam or maybe you already have, into your car, then you might be worried that your dash cam will use too much battery power from the car when it's put on parking mode and the car is switched off.
It is very unlikely however that your dash cam will drain your vehicle battery as long as you drive your car often which will charge the battery.
Dashcams in parking mode don't consume as much power as people think, and many basic hardwire kits options will come with a voltage cutoff that will turn your dash cam off when the car battery drops in power.
We have composed a guide below, that will dive deeper into just how much power a dashcam will use, other power sources you can use to power your dashcam and how to prevent a battery drain from happening due to your dash cam.
Let's get into it!
If your dashcam has used a hardwire method to be installed, this means it uses your healthy car battery as a constant power source.
The hardwire method allows you to use your dashcam for features such as parking mode when your car is turned off, allowing you to protect your car by recording in parking, identifying if anyone knocks your car or does a hit and run when you not there.
Hardwiring your dashcam is done with a constant-power hardwire kit and involves connecting the power cable into your cars circuit fuse box.
As we touched on above, dashcams to most peoples surprise don't use a lot of power, even on cam parking mode, for example, high-quality dash cameras with dual lens and fancy features such as GPS will only draw around 0.25-0.45 amps of power, which is half the amount of a standard light bulb.
Many modern cars with a healthy battery would be able to support a dash cam in parking for up to 45 hours, as typically, they give 1 amp of power per hour before the battery discharge occurs.
So in reality, even the most expensive dashcam will use a tiny amount of power from the battery of your car, making draining it, very unlikely.
If you don't want to risk your battery performance declining or you have concern over the battery health of your car, then you might want to opt-out of installing your dashcam with a hardwiring kit and look at other power sources instead.
There are two other main ways that you can power your dashcam, one is by using the cigarette lighter port on your car with a power cable, and the other is by buying a dashcam that has a battery pack inside.
Even though it is very rare that a dashcam will draw enough power from your car's battery to drain it, you can try some tips and tricks that will help you to prevent this from ever happening, we have listed a few of our favourites below.
One great way to offer battery protection for your car when it's turned off is to not let it connect to your dashcam at all, meaning you can power your cam with standalone battery packs for the duration of when your car is parked, this eliminates the potential of battery death from your car.
These cam battery pack models such as the Blackvue will charge from your car's battery as you drive, then power the cam independently when the car is off.
The only drawback of these external power source batteries is that can be a little expensive to buy depending on the battery capacity your model comes with, especially if you buy expansion battery packs that extend the life of your battery pack for even longer.
Dashcams, in general, use a tiny amount of power, even the fanciest models, but if your want to reduce power consumption, then avoid dashcams with ultra HD resolution, touch screen and large displays, as these all need extra power to run.
Stick to a basic model if you don't want your model to use too much power, but the difference is only slight.
Nowadays, many hardwiring kits that come with dashcams almost always have a built-in voltage meter that will have a voltage cutoff system that detects when your car's battery drops too low then turns off the dash camera, meaning you will never run the risk of coming back to dead battery situation.
One other simple way to reduce the risk of battery drain is by turning off your dashcam when you know you will be leaving your car for long periods. The risk of a battery drain on your car is very low, but if you were to leave it on for two days, it could be a different story.
Many people who now own more modern hybrid cars that run on electricity worry that dash cams will drain their car's battery even more, as they run solely on electricity.
This is not true and electric cars will be able to power dashcams for longer due to their car's battery being bigger!
What is the parking mode feature on a dashcam?
The parking mode feature on your dashcam allows your dashcam to stay powered when your vehicle is parked and record any motion or unusual activity while you are not around, this can help you spot car thieves, or if someone scratches your door or even vandalises your car while it is parked.
How much do dashcam battery packs cost?
For a high-quality dash cam battery pack which will support your camera during long periods of parking mode, they will cost anything in between £300-£400 which can be quite an investment if you have only just brought your dashcam, but worth it if you want to protect your car's battery.
Do dashcams start when you turn the ignition on?
Yes, if your dashcam is already plugged into the cigarette port on your car or has been hardwired into your vehicle then the dashcam will turn on automatically and start recording as you drive, battery dashcams which are less common nowadays will require you to switch them on manually.
What does the built-in voltage meter do on a hardwiring kit?
A voltage meter on a hardwire kit will allow the dashcam to monitor your car's battery at all times, so as if the power drops from your car's battery during parking mode, the device will automatically turn itself to protect the car battery.
If your dashcam has been hardwired into your car without this protection, then you should be more concerned as it runs a higher risk of draining the battery.
Overall, the chance of your dashcam draining your car's battery is very slim as they don't consume a lot of power, it all comes down to the type of battery that you have too, the condition of it and how long your dashcam will stay on parking mode for.
If you want to reduce the risk entirely of your car's battery being drained then it might be worth investing in an external battery pack for your dashcam or giving up parking mode completely and connecting your dashcam to the cigarette lighter port on your vehicle.
Dash Cams are gaining a lot of popularity worldwide these days because they protect drivers in a variety of ways. Insurance claims from accidents, police corruption, and other criminal activities are all recorded on these cameras so perpetrators can be prosecuted.