What is a dash cam?
A dash cam, or dashboard camera, is a small recording device that's fitted to the windscreen in your car. It begins recording your journey when you start the car engine.
The footage is stored on an SD card that can be downloaded to a computer for safekeeping. Once the SD card is full, the camera will record in a loop, overwriting old footage on the card.
While most dash cams have only a forward-facing camera mounted on the windscreen some dash cams have rear-facing cameras as well. These are useful if you're ever involved in a rear-end collision.
In-car cameras are also available that record what's going on inside the car. Mainly used by taxis and commercial vehicles, they can help in case of disputes or for learner drivers to check how they're driving.
What do I need to know when choosing a dash cam?
There are so many dash cams on the market, it can be tricky to know what to buy. First of all, have a think about what you want the camera to do. For example, if you do a lot of stop/start city driving, then forward and rear-facing cameras may be useful.
So what are your options?
Single or multiple lenses
A single lens is attached to your windscreen and records the road up ahead. Multiple lens systems usually have one lens attached to the front windscreen and one attached to the rear window. You can also have a camera set up to record what's going on inside the car.
This is essential in case you need to show the footage to your car insurance
company. At the very least, you should buy a 720p screen, which is the equivalent to 'HD Ready'. A 1080p screen is equivalent to 'Full HD' and should provide a sharper picture.
Location tracking will pinpoint the time and location of an accident. Plus it will show the route you took and the speed you were travelling.
Instead of overwriting footage when the SD card is full, some dash cams will automatically save moments of high G-force, i.e. the moment when a collision took place.
If you've ever come back to the car park to find your car dented and no note left by the culprit, you may want to invest in a dash cam with parking mode. The camera will automatically start recording if it senses a collision when you're parked.
Why a dash cam could help in an accident
No one wants to be involved in an accident, but when you've spent years building up your no claim discount
it can be doubly frustrating to lose it when you know the other driver was at fault but you can't prove it.
Dash cam footage can provide valuable evidence to your insurer that you are not to blame for the accident. This means you won't need to pay out an excess, or you'll get it reimbursed, and you won't lose your no claim discount.
You may find that your claim is settled faster as well, because the insurer can see straight away how the accident happened.
And if you find yourself a victim of a crash for cash scam
, you have the footage to prove it.