How Does a Dashcam Work?
A dashcamâ€”which is more formally called a dashboard cameraâ€”is a simple device with only three components: a video camera, power inputs that are hard-wired to the ignition of a car, and a removable solid state memory card to store the footage. They are designed to power on automatically when the car starts, which is good news for those of us who tend to have a less-than-great memory when it comes to these kinds of things.
This automatic feature can be compared to, say, replacing a specially-bought dashcam with a portable recording device (such as a smartphone) and mounting it on the dashboard. With a specially-bought dashcam, you don’t have to worry about remembering to turn it on every time you step in your vehicle, but with a smartphone, it’s different. You would have to remember to switch it on as well as to set it to record.
Benefits of Dashcams
Dashboard cameras can be used to:
- Capture driving footage and, in the instance of an accident, prove the innocence (or fault) of a driver or drivers involved in the accident. They are a glorious invention; no longer can the blame be put on you when a dashboard camera can adequately prove that it was not your fault.
- Protect you in the event of an accident on private property. According to the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers Association, an astonishing one out of five motor vehicle accidents occurs in a parking lot or parking garage. The most unfortunate thing about this statistic is that police typically aren’t allowed to take a police report in parking lots and parking garages because they’re usually private property and therefore not public domain; they can only document what the parties involved claimed to have happened as well as the damages. A dashcam, however, can catch the culprit even if you’re not at your car and prove your innocence in the matter. It can be left on when leaving your car alone in the lot or garage, and it can also help in those unfortunate circumstances when another driver hits or scrapes your car when they’re backing out of a spot.
- Help you prevent insurance fraud. In the awful event that a pedestrian purposely tries to get hit by your vehicleâ€”which does happen in the case of someone willing to part with a broken limb in exchange for a hefty insurance settlementâ€”dashcams can protect you. The FBI states that the estimated cost of insurance fraud is about $40 billion per year, which amounts to motorists fitting that bill.
- Help get you out of a traffic violation. This will only work for violations where you are not at fault, but it can provide an excellent way to get out of a ticket instantly if that’s the case. If you believe you weren’t at fault, simply show the officer the footage and request that he or she not write the ticket. If the officer refuses to watch the footage, you can bring it into the courtroom to help you contest it.
- Review your teenage driver’s driving. Reviewing dashcam footage allows parents to step in and correct bad driving behaviors before it becomes a habit. Having a dashcam in place can also help you prove the innocence of your young driver in the case of an accident â€” hopefully helping to ease your mind about them getting behind the wheel.
- Make you a better driver. The mere act of having an always-on dashcam will make you more aware of your own driving habits, and you can review your own driving footage whenever you want as well. And, dashcams can even help you snag that good driver discount you’ve been working towards.
- Capture unexpected moments from the road or to document a road trip. Dashboard cameras don’t have to be used only for accidents, fender benders and tickets â€” they go whenever you go, documenting your experience along the way.
Itching for even more information about dashcams and driving defensively? Look into an online traffic school. An online traffic school can help you or your teen driver become more aware of driving habits, and enrolling in one voluntarily can even help you get a citation dismissed.