What would you do if I told you that driving for Uber and Lyft opens drivers up to an extreme amount of liability?
Passengers can make untrue claims against drivers, as can other parties if you get involved in an accident. But there’s hope for drivers everywhere, coming in the form of a simple tool that’s widely available and very affordable.
No, it’s not rideshare insurance… it’s a dash cam.
This simple device is like a GoPro but for vehicles. It’s designed to be mounted on your dashboard and record everything happening on the road (and sometimes inside the car) as you drive.
In case of an accident, where you are not at fault, this can be used as hard/first-hand evidence of the event and possibly save you thousands of dollars in liabilities to insurance companies and other fees.
The Best Dash Cams: A Primer
We set out to write about the Top 10 Best Dash Cams for rideshare drivers. But we couldn’t find ten that were good enough to be included in a list with the word “Top” in the title! So we decided to stick with five of our favorites dash cam options suited specifically for rideshare driving.
|We Recommend: Vantrue N2 Pro|
|Notable Features: HD recording, parking mode, easy setup, 18 month warranty|
The primary purpose of the original dash cams was to record the road ahead so in case of an accident you’d have video evidence to prove you weren’t at fault (if you weren’t). Most dash cams today are still designed for that sole purpose.
However, cameras designed for the sole purpose of recording evidence in the case of traffic accidents are not the best cameras for rideshare drivers – and that eliminates, from our consideration, most of the dash cams on the market.
Dash cams for Uber and Lyft drivers need extra features to meet the needs of rideshare drivers. Namely, they need the ability to record both front and back view, as well as audio.
Before ridesharing came along, drivers did not need to record the interior of their car. It’s not like they were driving strangers around who might falsely accuse them of a crime! So the need for a camera that filmed the inside of a car simply wasn’t there.
For rideshare drivers, having a good dash cam that records both the interior and exterior of the car is essential. There are so many ways you can get into trouble from being falsely accused of bad behavior by a passenger to getting into a traffic accident – that having nearly irrefutable video evidence can mean the difference between proving your innocence and being in a world of trouble.
The reasons why all drivers should have a dashcam in their vehicle are endless, but here’s a real-world example of the most common one… insurance fraud. I’m not kidding, just watch the video.
“Crash for cash” is rampant in the U.S too, with Insurance Information Institute predicting Auto insurance fraud totally nearly $30 billion a year. A dashboard camera can help you catch those folks who try to profit from cheating the system and making you pay. In an attempt to extort money, when a pedestrian randomly throws themselves on your car, or a vehicle makes a sudden unnecessary stop forcing you to collide into them, the visual evidence that dashboard camera provides more weight with the law enforcement.
How does a dash cam work?
A dash cam is designed to record videos, and sometimes audio footage of the road ahead as you drive. It records the drivers perspective. Some dash cams also come with GPS that specifies the location of the footage and even the speed of the vehicle. Some dash cams also come with fancy features like incident detection, lane departure warnings, forward collision warnings, G-sensors, parking mode that keeps recording for theft or accident in an event where you have to leave your car for a short time, and more.
All dash cams start recording as soon as your ignition key in on the start position and record the whole journey as long as they are powered. Unlike cell phones or cameras, that usually ask you to free up space by deleting old pictures and videos, a dashcam records in a continuous loop which means that when its storage space fills up, it automatically overwrites the old files with new footage.
Limitations of Dash Cams
For Uber and Lyft drivers, all dash cams come with one severe limitation that really puts a dent into how much protection they can provide. Drivers think if they have a dash cam they’ll be fully protected in the case of an accident and in the case of a customer who lodges false accusations.
However, that’s not necessarily true. The biggest limitation of current dash cams is the fact that none of them upload or stream video live to the cloud. So, unless you know you’re going to need video from a particular trip, it will be deleted within just a few short hours – as soon as the camera overwrites older video with newer.
Dash cams, therefore, provide their best protection in the case of accidents. Because when you have an accident, you know it – right then and there – so, you can save the footage. Some cameras even automatically save the footage when they detect an accident.
However, you will still never know for sure that you’re not going to need a portion of video sometime down the road. For instance, one time while I was driving in Manhattan, I was sitting at a red light, waiting to make a left turn. When the light turned green, I slowly pulled into the intersection. Just as I was about to go through the intersection, a guy on a back came whizzing up the left side of my car, shouting at me and giving me the finger. He kept on going, and a few seconds later he was out of sight.
I had no way of knowing at the time that he had taken down my license plate number. And I had no idea that a few weeks later I would get a letter from the NY-TLC (Taxi & Limousine Commission) informing me that someone had complained that I was driving recklessly and failed to yield for a bicyclist!
I still don’t know how you can drive recklessly at 2 mph, and I don’t know how you can be blamed for failing to yield to someone – who you didn’t hit! But that’s what happened. And a video, in that case, would have been extremely helpful.
However, even if I had had a dash cam at the time, it never would have occurred to me to save that footage. When the guy on the bike zoomed out of sight – I figured all was forgotten, and that was that. So, that’s a big limitation of these cameras, and it’s why they will not protect you in all situations.
And similarly, in the case of a passenger who lodges false accusations against you-you may not even know they’re going to do that until days, weeks or even months later. By the time you find out – the video from their trip will be long gone, and Uber may deactivate you in the blink of an eye.
Another point to keep in mind before installing a dashcam in your vehicle is to ensure that it’s not going to land you in hot waters because of two factors- vision obstruction and electronic surveillance (wiretapping). The laws surrounding what’s allowed and isn’t varies according to states, so ensure that you are abiding by the laws local to you.
Vision obstruction is a problem because most dash cams stick to the windshield and not the dashboard. The size of the dashcam permitted varies, and some states might not have any restrictions at all, but generally speaking, your dashcam shouldn’t obscure more than 7-inch square area if mounted on the passenger side, or 5-inch square area if on the drivers’ side.
Also be aware of the local laws surrounding electronic surveillance, especially if the dash cam you are using records audio. Some states might require you to have the permission of at least one passenger before you record their conversation, while others may require you to have the permission of all the passengers in your vehicle.
While the amount of restrictions varies by state, the good thing is with rideshare drivers, just letting them passengers know there is a dashcam in your vehicle encourages them not to create any ruckus.
Common Cases for a Dash Cam
There are passenger incidents – the most serious of which is fairly rare, where cameras can protect you from one but not the other.
In some cases, the passenger makes it known during the trip that you could potentially have some trouble with them. Maybe they become unruly during the trip, or perhaps they yell at you or accuse you of something or say they’re going to accuse you of something.
In other words, they pretty much tell you that they’re going to cause trouble for you. In those cases, a camera will protect you because you would obviously know to save the video footage from those events.
However, there are two other kinds of passenger events that today’s cameras offer no protection for.
One is the passenger who says and does nothing unusual during the trip – but sometime later files a complaint against you with Uber or Lyft. You would have no way of knowing this passenger was going to file a complaint because they showed no signs of being dissatisfied while they were on the trip with you.
The other type of incident is so rare that I’ve never actually heard of it happening to anyone. But, it could happen.
This case would be a trip where the passenger knew they did something wrong and they saw your video camera and they grab it and take it with them! Obviously, this type of violent incident would be extremely rare.
But, if a passenger knows how these dash cams work, they’ll know they don’t upload video to the cloud, and they’d know the video is stored on a card inside the camera. Therefore, they would know if they just got caught on camera doing something bad, they can get rid of the video simply by grabbing your camera and running!
The fact that dash cams can’t protect you in all situations isn’t a reason not to get one though – they’re still worth it for the situations they can protect you in. The situations where they offer less protection are, in fact, the situations that you are least likely to encounter. So it is still good to have one as they will help you in the majority of the situations you are likely to encounter.
In my four years of driving, there are two times I wish I had had a camera. One was the one I mentioned above where the guy on the bike yelled at me. And the other was a time when I was going around the airport road.
The traffic was light and moving at about 35 mph. I took my eyes off the road, literally for half a second to glance at the clock on my tablet. When my eyes returned to the road, there was a car dead stopped right in front of me! I slammed on the brakes and rear-ended him. I’m not sure how fast I was going when I hit him, but it wasn’t fast enough to set off the airbags nor was it fast enough, thankfully, that anybody got hurt. But to this day, I wish I could see on camera what I didn’t see at the time, which is when and why he came to such a sudden stop – in the middle of the road!
Features Rideshare Drivers Should Look for in a Dash Cam
Your dream camera should:
- have two-way recording capabilities, recording both the front exterior of the vehicle and the rear interior of the vehicle;
- record front and rear video to two separate files;
- record high-quality audio;
- record GPS position and speed – these two capabilities are important for documenting your location and your speed in the case of an accident;
- have good night vision capabilities – the camera should have infrared capabilities for the interior cabin shots and should capture clear, sharp nighttime video outside the car, and should give out clear videos in low-light situations;
- have loop recording – where newest video overwrites the oldest video;
- be inconspicuous. The less visible, the better.
TWO-WAY RECORDING: This is a requirement that is unique to rideshare drivers. If you drive your car only for personal purposes, then you would most likely never need to have a camera recording inside the cabin of your car. But when you’re transporting strangers on a daily basis, it is essential for you to be able to record the interior of the car – to protect yourself against false accusations. And hopefully, if you do ever get falsely accused of something by a passenger, you’ll still have the video as evidence to show otherwise.
FRONT & REAR RECORDED TO SEPARATE FILES: It is quite helpful to have the front and rear video recorded to two separate files because you can watch them separately. One camera we looked at recorded both views to the same file and it was very difficult to watch. Each view filled only half the screen, and it was impossible to enlarge each view to see the video more clearly.
HIGH-QUALITY AUDIO: This is another feature that is essential to protect rideshare drivers against false accusations by passengers. Many times an unruly passenger is not seen by the physical movements they make, but by the words they say. It is absolutely essential that any camera you get can pick up clear audio from the backseat. We looked at several cameras that claimed to have audio – but the audio was of such poor quality – they may as well not have bothered including that feature.
GPS CAPABILITY: This is pretty much an essential requirement. In the case of an accident, GPS capability will be the only way a camera could track and display your speed. If you weren’t speeding, this could mean the difference between being charged with an accident and not being charged.
NIGHT VISION: This feature is necessary to document bad actions by your passengers and is another requirement for Uber and Lyft drivers. The cameras we looked at come with varying degrees of video and image quality when it comes to the interior infrared lighting. Some cameras work fine, and some would require extra infrared lights to be added (which you can do at a reasonable cost).
SOFTWARE FOR VIEWING: Most cameras expect you to simply take the storage card out and stick it into your computer and open the files with whatever video viewing software you have. However, some come with pretty nifty software that not only displays the video but on the side also displays a map showing exactly where you were during each second of video. It’s not a must-have, but it would be nice to have.
LOOP RECORDING: Since there is no cost-effective way to upload all our videos to the cloud, we have to settle knowing that we’re only going to save video from the events that are going tong to need video evidence. That being the case, you don’t need to save a lot of videos – just a few hours would be fine. So, you want a camera that will automatically go back to the beginning and start overwriting the oldest video with the newest.
As long as you have even just an hour of recording time, that would be all you need to be able to save the events that you know must be saved. Most of the cameras come with video cards that will hold at least 3 hours of video.
INCONSPICUOUS: This requires a careful balancing act. You don’t want the camera to be completely invisible to passengers. It should be obvious enough that no one will miss it. But it shouldn’t be so obvious that it consumes your passenger’s attention.
Most states require that drivers give some notice to passengers that they are being recorded. That notice can often be satisfied by the fact that the camera is visible and obvious. In other cases, your state may require that you post a written notice somewhere in your car. You should check with your state’s laws to make sure you are complying.
But the bottom line is- you must give notice to your passengers. At the same time, do not want the fact that you’re using a camera to consume your passengers’ attention.
All of the cameras are of course visible to anyone in the car. But some of them have screens that constantly show video of whatever the camera is seeing. As a rideshare driver, you probably don’t want to rub it in your passenger’s face quite as blatantly as that!
With all that out of the way, let’s take a look at the Five Best Dash Cams for Uber, Lyft and other Ridesharing Drivers.
The Best Dash Cam for Uber & Lyft Drivers
When we were considering making a Top 10 Dash Cams list, we realized we’d be wasting your time reading reviews of some junky dash cam. We looked at a variety of different options including Z-edge z3, Thinkware, Rexing, Kdlinks, Garmin Dash cams and many other options before compiling the list below. Remember, this list was made keeping rideshare drivers in mind who have a lot of other factors to worry about than someone using a dashcam or personal driving.
Our Top 5 list will start off with the worst of the five and work down to the best. But, the worst on this list are at least still usable for Uber and Lyft drivers – and they’re certainly better than the five we left off!
5. Falcon Zero F360+
Overview: HD DVR Dual 1080P Multiple-vehicle – 32GB SD Card
- It has an extremely high rating on Amazon (please see “Review of the Reviews”);
- It does have infrared nighttime capabilities;
- It does record audio;
- Can be mounted on the rearview mirror which saves space and gives it better recording angles;
- It claims to have a 120° viewing angle/ dual cameras rotate 180° and records inside outside and inside of the car.
- Its infrared lights around the lens aren’t very powerful, so it doesn’t provide much light outside;
- the audio is barely audible;
- While it claims to have a 120° viewing angle, pictures, and videos from it suggest it’s more like 90°;
- The video quality of this camera is low, and it easily loses focus when it’s too bright outside;
- It attaches to your rear-view mirror, and the reviewers didn’t seem to mind that, you may not want to cover up your rearview mirror with a camera, and since the grip isn’t steady if you want to move the camera, you’d have to move the rear view mirror too;
- It records both front and rear to a single file. That means you can’t separate the front and rear view when you play back the video, which means you won’t be able to watch either front or rear in full screen. You’ll only be able to watch each one in half screen;
- It doesn’t have GPS, so it does not track your location or speed – and unlike some other cameras that we reviewed, there is no way to add a GPS attachment;
- Very narrow field of vision;
- Poor audio quality;
- The audio does not sync up with the video. There’s a lag between video and audio;
- Night vision in the interior of the car is terrible.
Review of the Reviews
I’ve seen other websites recommend this camera as their number one choice for Uber and rideshare drivers – based on its high star rating, currently at 4.5. It has 84% 5-stars and only 7% 1-star. Based on that you’d think you can’t go wrong. But think again!
After reading many of the 5-star reviews, it became quite apparent that this company pays people to write fake reviews. Many of the 5-star reviews are just a couple of sentences, they are riddled with bad English, and some of them refer to products other than a dash cam!
One 5-star reviewer said this was a great camera to “take on long outdoor trips.” Hmm… one thing all long car trips have in common – is that they are outdoors! And this reviewer didn’t mention why this camera is better than other cameras on long trips! When you read nonsensical things like that in reviews, it’s a good sign those reviews are fake.
Upon reading the 1-, 2- and 3-star reviews, it becomes apparent that the vast majority of the 5-star reviews are fake. There are more than 200 1-star reviews, they are thorough, they are written in decent English, and they all refer to a “dash cam”!
4. Vantrue N2
Overview: Upgraded from the revious version
Price: $170 ($192 with GPS capability)
- Its slender build means it doesn’t take up a lot of space on your windshield and it won’t “shout” to your passengers that they are being recorded;
- Its front camera has a super wide-angle view at 170 ° covering more lanes at once;
- It has Automatic Collision Detection – and will lock video files that were taken during a collision. It has G-Sensors (Gravity sensors) that automatically senses sudden movements of vehicles caused by a sudden stop or by a sudden surging of a steady vehicle. In situations like these, this dashcam locks down that footage and continues recording normally. Then when the memory gets full, it doesn’t overwrite these impacted videos with new stuff.
- Seamless loop recording – it overwrites the oldest footage with the newest once the storage card is full;
- Auto LCD Off – the LCD screen turns off automatically after recording begins so you won’t be disturbed by another glowing light on your windshield;
- Parking mode – it detects when you’ve parked and it will auto record anytime people or things come close to the front of your car;
- The base connects the camera automatically to the power source when the camera is inserted into the base. This means you can take the camera off and take it inside with you to load your video onto your computer without having to unplug and plug the power cable into the power source every time. Just grab the camera and go. Pretty neat. But, that’s about all we can say for it.
- The daytime video quality is pretty decent, not the best, but the nighttime video is not that good. While it boasts of a 170° wide-angle view in the front, at nighttime, it can only see whatever is in the field of view of the headlights – which is considerably less than 170°;
- It has an illuminated screen that all passengers can see at all times, so we consider it intrusive.
- The SD card has to be purchased separately for $11.99;
- To get GPS, you have to purchase a separate part that plugs into the camera and takes up more space on your windshield and costs $22;
- It comes with infrared night vision, but it simply does not provide enough infrared light to see anything in the back seat at night. You would need an additional infrared array. At night, the front camera picks up only what is illuminated by the car’s headlights. And the interior camera picks up nothing;
Review of the Reviews:
- The reviews for this camera are improving. The original camera had 3.4 stars since they’ve “UPGRADED” it, its rating has risen to 4.1 stars.
- The top complaints about it are that it simply drops dead and stops working after about a month. Several people mentioned this, so we have reason to believe it’s a prevalent problem. But it remains to be seen whether this is still a problem with the Upgraded version;
- The suction cup to mount it on your windshield is very large, so it may obstruct your view;
- Several people also mentioned corrupted video files – which is usually a sign that the SD card is damaged or broken.
3. Pruveeo C2 Dash Cam
Overview: Upgraded from the previous version
- The number three on our list has two cameras- forward facing and rear facing- that can be rotated at 180°and has a wide viewing angle of 150° each;
- Supports up to a 128 GB storage card which can hold about 7 hours of video;
- Has two cameras that record in 1080P / HD 720;
- You can lower the resolution to get significantly more recording time;
- Supports audio recording.
- To record front and rear view, the Pruveeo comes as two separate cameras. The rear camera is intended to capture video from outside your back window. It’s not really designed to record passengers in the backseat, but it can be re-configured to do so. But note that you’ll get two separate cameras, and you’ll need two separate outlets to plug them into;
- Some reviewers have complained that the infrared lights for the interior camera aren’t enough to light the rear of the cabin and that you need to turn on your car’s dome lights to see in the backseat;
- The rear camera produces a very low-quality video. You won’t be able to read license plates on a car right behind you – even in the daytime;
- It’s big. It leaves a rather large footprint on your windshield. It will not go unnoticed by your passengers. Pruveeo boasts that the screen is 2.7”, but for our purposes, this is much too big. It is anything but unobtrusive. Your passengers will not only notice it; they will likely obsess on it and not be able to stop looking at it!
- The SD card is difficult to get in and out and needs to be purchased separately at $19.99;
- No automatic motion detector;
- No GPS.
Review of the Reviews:
- There are only 86 reviews, so you have to take the fact that it has 72% 5-star reviews with a grain of salt. However, many of the 5-star reviews do seem legitimate but keep in mind- most of these reviewers aren’t rideshare drivers, so they’re not looking for the same things that drivers need in a camera;
- The negative reviews contained complaints about the camera shutting off or hanging after running for a while. One reviewer noted that when this happens, you have to reset the time and date on the camera every time.
2. BlackVue DR750S
Overview: Upgraded from the previous version
- This camera is brand new – just out in late 2017;
- It has hugely improved night vision on the front exterior camera. It picks up things at night that no other camera can see. However, although its amazing night vision when is touted – I wasn’t that impressed with what I saw. I think the daytime and nighttime videos from the earlier 650S were crisper and clearer. Although, there is no doubt the 750 picks up more detail in the dark than the 650 does. Blackvue has also admitted to some problems with the clarity of the 750;
- It captures 60 frames per second (fps) rather than the 30 fps most camera collect. This means you can pause it on almost any frame and see great detail, such as license plates;
- This is our favorite dash camera for rideshare drivers. It records in 1080p Full HD video with the front lens and the interior rear lens. It also has infrared night vision capabilities;
- It has a faster processor, which means things like it’s faster to boot up (10 seconds faster than on the 650). Video encoding has been improved, and it supports higher bit rates – which all means higher quality videos;
- The lens is 10% wider than on the 650;
- Its temperature tolerance has been raised by 18°F. The 650 had a maximum temperature rating of 140°F, but the 750 has a maximum rating of 158°.
- The GPS is significantly improved – it maintains the location lock a lot better;
- The built-in-GPS and built-in Wi-Fi capability that allows you to download the necessary footage to your phone;
- The camera is nicely inconspicuous. While it is very apparent that a camera is in the car, its footprint is small enough that it’s not constantly shouting at you, “I’M HERE – LOOK AT ME!”
- You can disable all LED indicators for when you want to travel in stealth mode;
- Records the date, time and speed. The audio is not that great. It’s a little difficult hearing conversation inside the car.
- The rear camera is completely separate and designed to be mounted in the rear window of the car, facing the traffic behind the car. So, it’s not exactly designed for Uber and Lyft drivers in that respect;
- The rear camera doesn’t have Infrared capability – so it wouldn’t work well if it were setup to film the cabin of the car at night – and for this reason, this camera won’t take our top spot. It’s a great camera in general but just not perfect for rideshare drivers;
- Pricier than the other options on this list.
A Word About Picture Quality
Blackvue gets raving reviews for its picture quality and with their latest version they have really stepped things up another notch. However, remember the purpose of these cameras is to document evidence of car accidents, break-ins, and passenger misbehavior.
You do not have to have cinematic film quality to provide this kind of evidence. And more than likely, you are not going to spend any time watching these videos as 99.9% of them will be deleted without your ever seeing them. So, don’t overpay just to get stellar video quality.
Anything that offers 1080p at 30 fps is going to be more than enough quality for any evidentiary needs you may have. It may be nice to have more than that, but for our purposes, it’s unnecessary.
1. Vantrue N2 Pro $222 (with GPS)
Overview: Upgraded from the previous version
Price: $222 (with GPS)
- This is our top pick! Based on features, quality and price. This is a distant cousin to one of the worst cameras on our list the Vantrue N2. This is the Vanture N2 PRO. And although it looks exactly like it’s amateur cousin, it comes with a few new and different features that make all the difference. And it has much better reviews! This one clocks in at 4.4 stars with 470 customer reviews on Amazon. Much better than the non-pro version;
- This Vanture adds infrared night vision for videoing the interior of the car, and it looks really good;
- You can record 1080p on both front and rear cameras at the same time;
- Both cameras have super wide dynamic range;
- It has a variable sensitivity G-sensor that auto detects a sudden shake/collision and emergency locks the footage to the “Event File” to prevent that video from being overwritten;
- Comes with a 24-hour motion activated parking mode feature;
- Seamless Loop Recording – which overwrites the oldest footage with the newest upon filling a card to capacity;
- It supports up to a 64 GB microSD card – which is equal to about 4 hours of recording time;
- The daytime video is very crisp and clear;
- The nighttime video is very clear, and you can read license plates;
- Probably one of the nicest features of this camera is that the power is plugged into the mount. So, you can easily detach the camera from the suction mount and take it with you – without having to unplug it every time;
- It records front and rear video into separate files – which is exactly what you want;
- Reportedly records in the MOV video file format, but one reviewer said that they have just updated it to record in the MP4 format. If that’s true, it would be a great benefit to drivers as file sizes are smaller and more manageable;
- Compatible with Mac and Windows XP – Windows 10;
- You can adjust the angle of the rearview mirror independently of the front mirror;
- It has a “Safety Made Smart” which is a parking monitor that makes the dual cam record automatically when it detects motion in front of your car.
- Its GPS system is optional and comes extra as a separate part. The good news is the GPS addition is only $22. But that increases the cost of this little camera by 10%;
- Does not come with a memory card.
Review of the Reviews
- It has 4.4 stars on 470 reviews – which places it very high compared to other dash cams. 75% are 5 stars, and only 11% are two or one stars. This is a very good rating for dash cams – and the 75% figure for 5-star reviews suggests that there aren’t fake reviews here;
- One reviewer mentioned that the rear camera needs a better backlight capability – because, in the daytime, the rear window of his car is washed out. In this photo, there is a car right behind him, but you can’t see it because of the backlight problem. However, in other videos with this camera, you will see that not everyone has this problem.
- When we look at negative reviews, we look for proof in the form of a photo or video, or we look to see if several different people report the same problem. In the case of this camera, we did not find multiple complaints about the same issue. Every 1-star complaint was unique to the reviewer, so we assume those problems are rare.
A Word about SD Cards
Don’t pinch pennies when it comes to the SD card. You want to get the highest quality one you can find. So many have complained that when they need a video, they go and find out their SD card was corrupted and didn’t capture the one video they needed. So don’t pinch pennies here!