Why use a Dash Cam?
Benefits of Dash Cam.
What are the benefits of dash cam? Lately we see more and more in the news videos captured on dash cam. A driver on the bridge in Taiwan became a witness of a horrific plane crash. Drivers in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk caught what appeared to be a meteor falling from the skies, and many other YouTube videos of wrecks are caught on tape.
Why get a dash cam?
A picture is worth a thousand words, but a video from dash cam can tell a whole story. A little device mounted on your windshield may prove your words if you get involved in accident and help you avoid insurance scam.
A couple of years ago I was making a left turn when a sedan ran a stop sign and T-boned me on the driver’s side. She drove away, but minutes later came back. After police arrived, I told them what happened, but she made up a different story, like I cut a sharp turn and hit her vehicle. Since there were no witnesses, police officers wrote down our stories, without even closely looking in the details. My car was totaled, I end up with the medical bill and her insurance refused to pay the claim. I decided there was a better way to protect myself against that kind of fraud, and I started browsing the Internet to find a solution. Then I stumbled upon some videos on YouTube.
Why Do Russian Drivers Have Dash Cams?
One of my Russian friends told me this joke:
The passenger is asking a cab driver in Russia
– Why do you look at both sides? There is one-way traffic only.
– Dude, that’s Russia – I would have looked upward, too!
More than one million motorists in Russia have dash cams on the board, because sometimes this is the only way to protect from road rage crazy drivers or possibly corrupt police. These are the main reasons why we see more and more disasters caught on video, or crashes caught on dash cam by Russian motorists.
But not only Russian motorists realized the importance of dash cam, because lately more and more Americans start mounting a dash cam on windshield.
How to make a dash cam
I’ll tell you from the beginning: Don’t even bother yourself and waste your time. There are some suggestions from different websites on how to use old point and shoot digital cameras, or some videos on YouTube trying to convince you than you can use your cellphone as a dash cam so you can have a GPS and dash cam recording at once. Avoid both for the following reasons:
1. Many states have restriction laws of using television screen on windshield, even the use of GPS may get you in trouble with the law, so mounting a digital camera or cell phone won’t be a good idea.
2. Digital cameras make very good videos, but most of them have limited memory and don’t erase the old footage automatically like the dash cam does.
3. Assembling and disassembling a cell phone will take some time, and you will not remember to do that every time. What about if you’re getting a phone call? Even if you have a Bluetooth or Bluetooth equipped stereo in a car, your phone will not be recording during the phone call. Long story short, cell phone usage is not a safe option.
You need to assemble the dash cam only once, and shooting starts and ends by simply turning your ignition key on or off; for digital cameras or cell phones, you have to perform that manually.
Is it legal to have a dash cam?
Yes, there is no law to prohibit dash cams in your personal or commercial vehicle. However, there are some restrictions you need to know: you can cover only a 5 inch area on the left side of the windshield on the driver side, or a 7 inch area in the right side of the passenger side. The same restrictions apply to GPS devices too. In some states, it’s illegal to mount an external device to the windshield. Check your state Law and call the state DMV office to get more details on regulation and local laws.
One law that you need to know is the Federal Wiretapping Act, which makes it illegal to record an oral communication that you’re not a party to. So, if someone else drives your car and got pulled over by the police, it’s better to notify about the dash cam to the officer.
Currently insurance companies don’t offer any incentives or discounts for the dash cam in the car, but there is a positive effect of having one in the car: it changes the driver’s behavior, and you don’t drive recklessly when you’re recording yourself.
Another major reason is that if you’re a parent of teenage driver who does not have enough experience yet, then a dash cam is a highly necessary equipment to have in the car. You can check for mistakes they did, and teach them how to avoid those mistakes. Also they will know that you’re in the car while you’re not really in the car, and it makes them drive responsibly. You can say it’s an invasion of privacy, but I’m not a control freak; as a responsible parent, I need to know the driving habits of my kids, where they go, and with whom.
Where to buy Dash Cam?
About 70% of dash cams sold in US have been purchased by truck drivers, who have been first to acknowledge the importance of having documented evidence in case of an accident or possible fraud claim. After truck drivers, this is a common gadget for cab drivers, who prefer to use Dual Lens Dash Cam with Rear View Camera to record the interior of the vehicle too.
Bikers prefer to use GoPro Cameras mounted on helmets; however, for a car, buying GoPro camera is not efficient. They are pretty expensive and you will face the same problems like with the digital camera or the cellphone. Most popular dash cams have a price range from $20 to $150. There are some expensive ones with GPS functions too, which could cost you $200 and up.
Most of the dash cams are sold by Chinese websites, like AliExpress, Everbuying and Focalprice. They are the most common retailers, where you can buy the dash cam directly from China.
Also there are a lot of options available on Amazon.com and eBay. Walmart also offers a few types of dash cams, but they are not available in every store; on the other hand, you will be able to get on Walmart.com with free shipping to your local store.
Since the product is getting more popular, the market starts flooding with lot of knock offs, and low quality dash cams even start popping up on Amazon.com and eBay. In the next article I will be reviewing two dash cams, which are most popular and are in big demand, and I will tell you how to avoid buying a fake one.