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What is a Dash Cam? How Do Dash Cams Work?

Last updated: May 29, 2021
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What is a dash cam

You may have heard talk of a dash camera being used by a friend, or you may have seen one of the countless viral videos that have been captured using a dash cam. But unless you’ve actually used one of these nifty gadgets in person, you may have some questions about them. What is a dash cam, anyways? How do they work? Is it a good idea to have one? We’ll answer these questions and more in the guide below.


What is a Dash Cam?

A dash cam or dash camera is a small device that is attached to your vehicle, usually on the inside of your windshield or on your dashboard. The device is used to record what’s in front of your vehicle at all times that your car is running. People use dash cams to record traffic activity in order to capture any important events, such as a crash. In many cases, dash cam footage can be used to prove fault in an accident, get out of a traffic ticket, etc. There are also rear-facing dash cams, but the front-facing style is the most common.


How Do Dash Cams Work?

Dash cameras work by recording automatically, whenever your vehicle is running. The camera itself hooks up to your car’s power supply, typically via the cigarette lighter/power outlet in your vehicle. So, as soon as your car turns on, the camera will begin drawing power and recording constantly.

A good dash cam will function similarly to a standard video recording device, with one exception: they are designed to continually delete footage to make room for new recordings. So, you might have an SD card installed in the camera that can hold about 12 hours of footage. Once you reach the storage limit, the device will start recording over the oldest footage, allowing for a continual record of all your driving activity. The theory behind this is that 99% of the time, you’ll never need the footage – and if something happens, all you need to do is remove the SD card and store the footage on your computer.

If you’re wondering how dash cams work to record quality footage from within a moving vehicle, that’s a great question! These devices are specifically designed for the challenges of recording at high speeds, in low lighting, etc. High-end dash cameras will have various features that will allow for quality recording in almost any weather condition, at any time of the night or day. In addition, most dash cams have a wide-angle lens, which allows it to capture more activity on the road.


Why Do People Use Dash Cameras?

What is a dash cam’s actual purpose, though? Why do people purchase and use these devices? There are a variety of reasons, including:

Car accidents – it’s useful to have an actual recording of an accident happening, whether you are involved or not. It can be useful for insurance purposes and proving fault in an accident.

Traffic violations – in some cases, dash cam footage could be used to prove that you were not at-fault in a traffic violations, potentially getting you out of a ticket.

Insurance fraud – unfortunately, insurance fraud is quite common, nowadays, and drivers are often targeted. If you become the victim of an insurance fraud scheme, having video evidence can be invaluable.

Driving skill – it’s sometimes useful to record your own driving in order to become a better driver. Additionally, some parents use dash cams to record their teens’ driving activities.

Cool footage – sometimes you can get lucky and catch a lightning strike, freak accident, or other interesting event unfolding in front of you.


What are Some Good Dash Cams?

We have lots of recommendations for solid cameras in our guide to the best dashboard cameras. Check it out, and let us know if you have any questions!

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