With so many benefits attached to having a dash cam fitted to your vehicle, it’s perhaps little wonder that dash cam ownership has soared from just 1% to a massive 15% within less than four years.
Given their increased popularity on the UK’s roads, dash cam manufacturers are now keeping a very close eye on technological advances and dual dash cams are already available with the ability to record both the front and rear of your vehicle 24/7.
So then, what does this mean in terms of accident reporting, insurance claims and even legal proceedings?
In this article we take a look at how effective dash cam evidence really is and whether it’s of any real benefit on our roads.
What are dash cams?
Dash cams are a relatively new concept and are there to record live time video footage from either the front – or front and rear – of your vehicle.
Depending on how much you want to spend, some dash cams feature multiple recording modes – as well as built-in GPS systems which can be especially useful in case of emergency or, of course, if your vehicle gets stolen.
Whilst the dash cam itself is a fairly small device (and often not even noticeable any more than any other gadget in the car), all footage is stored via on-board SD memory cards and are programmed to record in a looping manner, thus overwriting the oldest footage when it begins a new cycle of recording. Clever stuff. What’s more, in the event of an impact, the dash cam’s G-sensors are automatically triggered and notify the dash cam to record a separate event video which can’t then be deleted from the memory.
What are the benefits of having a dash cam?
Put simply, there are numerous benefits of having a dash cam installed in your vehicle. These include:-
- Reduced insurance premiums.
Many car insurers will massively reduce your car insurance if you offer to have a dash cam fitted to your vehicle and it’s not rocket science to work out why. In the event of an accident, you automatically have independent evidence as to exactly what happened. No fluffy witness statements, no blurred photographs – just pure high-resolution video evidence which, over nine times out of ten will tell your insurer (and the police) exactly who was at fault and what happened. It’s almost like your onboard silent witness.
What’s more, even whilst you’re not in your vehicle, the dash cam is still hard at work, continually protecting your vehicle and recording any bumps or damage it might sustain from a third party – even if your vehicle is parked up and you’re nowhere near it.
- Some dash cams come complete with GPS systems
Dash cams are now being equipped with sophisticated GPS systems. These not only provide crucial assistance in case of an emergency (even by possessing the ability to call the emergency services if you’re unable to do so yourself) but can also be used as a sat-nav system and to track vehicle speed.
- They can help settle insurance claims quicker
Because video evidence is difficult to dispute, a rising number of motorists are now finding that any claims are being settled much quicker by their insurance company, without the necessity of obtaining endless witness statements or police evidence. In fact, they almost streamline the whole process, thus making for a stress-free claim process – not to mention a much quicker pay out.
- They help improve driver behaviour
Whether dash cams are used to help reduce insurance premiums – or are used by employers to monitor their employees driving skills whilst going about their daily employment – there can be little doubt that the knowledge of being continually monitored can only help promote better driving behaviour whilst on the roads.
- They can eliminate any element of blame
It really doesn’t matter how carefully you drive, accidents still happen and whether you’re to blame or not, many insurers have previously insisted on a 50/50 settlement in order to conclude the claim – naturally to the wronged driver’s dismay. Thankfully, the dash cam now eliminates this issue altogether by providing irrefutable evidence of the event.
So how effective is dash cam evidence?
With more police forces encouraging the use of dash cams, it seems there can be very little doubt as to their effectiveness in terms of providing solid evidence. Indeed, both Cheshire Constabulary and West Midlands Police are encouraging the submission of dash cam evidence and their latest campaigns, it seems, are more than welcomed by motorists wishing to protect their legal position whilst behind the wheel.
Recently speaking on behalf of the West Midlands Police road traffic unit, one of their representatives said: “West Midlands Police is going to introduce a new way of ‘self-reporting’ due care and attention-type road traffic offences. The obvious benefit is, in the event of a collision, it can show the reason for the collision and liability. But this could work in favour of both the camera user and the non-camera user.”
So it’s not just the driver who benefits.
Are there any downfalls to using dash cam evidence in Court?
Unfortunately, it seems that the answer to this is currently ‘yes’.
In the event a matter is contested, and the police duly wish to use the dash cam evidence as part of their prosecution case (for example, to prove dangerous driving) there remain practical elements which must be overcome to secure its use for the purpose of a Court hearing. The reason for this is that the person who recorded and submitted the footage may need to make a statement and ultimately attend Court as a prosecution witness. And this where problems quickly arise. Whilst many motorists are more than happy to submit their dash cam evidence, what they don’t want is to appear before the Defendant in Court – particularly to give evidence when the Defendant might well stand to lose his or her driving licence, or even face a custodial sentence. Add to that the whole experience of having to attend Court (which many witnesses can find quite intimidating in itself), having to take time off work and potentially aggravate a Defendant … and it’s not difficult to see why some witnesses simply refuse to be part of the whole prosecution process.
As can be seen then, dash cam evidence can be extremely effective and is now being used increasingly when it comes to prosecuting unruly road users.
What’s more, their level of popularity among motorists means that they’re no longer particularly expensive to buy and can even pay for themselves in terms of reducing car insurance premiums.
Whilst dash cams have been used by the emergency services for some time now, it seems that their future is well and truly secured. Whilst agencies may well need to look more closely at certain privacy laws in terms of both usage and publication, there can be little doubt that the utility and a demonstrable return of these clever little systems are set to increase in the future.
Author: Smith Jones Solicitors