Dash Cams: Your Questions Answered
What is a Dash Cam?
A dash cam (short for dash cam) is a small camera that you place inside your car to record the road as you drive.
There are four types of on-board cameras:
- Forward Facing: These dash cams record the road ahead of the front windshield
- Forward and rear facing: as the name suggests, they record from the front windshield, but they have an additional camera that also records from the rear
- Back to rear: it is attached to the rear windshield and records at the rear of the vehicle
- Inside view: They are much less common and tend to be used more by people who drive professionally, such as taxi drivers.
Forward-facing cameras are the most commonly used type of dash cam. Front and rear cameras are generally more expensive, but offer peace of mind against rear-end collisions.
How do dash cams work?
How your dash cam works depends a lot on the model you have. They usually work by looping recordings, saving new recordings over old ones.
Most are Wi-Fi enabled for easy transfer of footage to other devices, and some have an accompanying app for easy use.
Some dash cams have a built-in sensor that picks up any sudden changes in G-force, such as if another car collides with yours. The camera will then record a clip of the incident so that the footage is not overwritten.
Other models have parking mode, where recording starts if the camera detects a bump while you were parked.
Are dash cams legal?
Dash cams are legal in the UK and there are no specific requirements for their use.
One important thing to keep in mind is that you need to make sure everyone else using your car knows if your dash cam is recording inside the car, especially since most also record sound. . It’s a violation of privacy laws if someone using your car doesn’t know it’s registered.
How much does a dash cam cost?
Dash cam prices vary widely, with the most basic models starting at around £20. At the higher end of the scale, the price can go up to £400 for those with the most features.
When thinking about which dash cam to buy, image quality should be the most important thing you think about. All the other features are just nice to have.
Where to put a dash cam
Ideally, your dash cam should be placed behind your rearview mirror. This way it sits in the middle of your windshield so it can register both sides of the road, but it won’t block your view.
If this is not possible due to the design of your car, you may need to place it elsewhere. The Highway Code states “windscreens and windows MUST be kept clean and free from obstructions to vision” and UK law states that your dash cam must not rest more than 40mm in the area covered by your windshield wipers.
It is essential that your dash cam does not block your view when you install it. If your dash cam is found to be blocking your vision or distracting you and you are involved in an incident, it could be considered your fault.
How to install a dash cam
When you have decided where to place your dash cam, there are two ways to install it in your car:
- Plug it into the 12v socket (the old cigarette lighter)
The former is the simplest option while the latter is the neatest, as the wires are hidden. Most dash cams come with a wire long enough to stash out of the way, around the edge of the windshield and around the cigarette lighter. Don’t just plug it in and let the cable hang down, because at best it will be annoying and at worst it could be distracting and even dangerous.
There are plenty of guides online on how to wire a dash cam, but if DIY isn’t your thing, places like Halfords will do it for you.
The dash cam itself usually attaches to the windshield with a suction cup.
Do dash cams work when the car is off?
The quick answer to this question is that some dash cams work when the car isn’t running, but most don’t. So if having a dash cam that always records when the engine is off is important to you, be sure to do your research and pick one that includes this option.
Are dash cams worth it?
Some insurers (including Admiral) will use dash cam footage if available when you file a claim after an incident, as this can often help determine who was at fault.
Your dash cam footage can also help protect you against a fraudulent claim – as it’s saved automatically and can’t be tampered with, it can provide some peace of mind if things go wrong.
Buying a dash cam is a personal choice, but if you get one, it’s the kind of thing you hope to have in the background but never need to actively use. .