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What Is A Dash Cam & Are They Worth The Investment?

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Key Information

Definition & Use

A dash cam is a device inside vehicles recording the road ahead, typically storing footage on SD cards or cloud storage.

Key Features

Modern dash cams can record vehicle interiors, rear views, and even have a 24/7 parking mode to capture events when parked.

Purpose & Value

Dash cams act as on-road witnesses, assisting in traffic stops, accidents, insurance claims, and promoting safety for young drivers.

Types & Brands

They come in front-facing, rear-facing, SD card storage, and cloud-based models. Popular brands include Garmin, Nextbase, and BlackVue.

Ridester’s Thoughts:

When I was younger, I was t-boned by a woman who ran a red light. The accident left me with significant damage, and a lesson learned – always, always, always drive with a dash cam. The small investment now has the potential to save drivers tons of money in the future.

What is a Dash Cam?

A dash cam, commonly referred to as a dashboard camera, is a specialized device affixed to a vehicle’s interior, typically on the dashboard, rear-view mirror, or windshield.

Its primary function is to continuously record footage of the road ahead as the car moves. Depending on the model and design, dash cams store this footage either on an SD card or cloud storage for future reference.

Once installed and connected, often through a car’s cigarette lighter or a more permanent wiring to the vehicle’s system, a dash cam operates automatically. It activates as soon as you start your car and continues to record for the duration of your journey.

Many modern dashcams offer additional features:

  1. Interior Recording: Some models are equipped to record the vehicle’s interior, providing an added layer of security, especially beneficial for those who frequently carpool or offer rideshare services.
  2. Rear View Recording: While the main function is to capture the road ahead, certain dash cams come with rear-facing cameras, offering a comprehensive view of the surroundings, including potential hazards or tailgating vehicles.
  3. Parking Mode: Modern dash cams can record 24/7, even when the car is parked. They draw power from the car’s fuse box or an external battery, capturing events like vandalism and hit-and-runs.

In essence, a dash cam is a vigilant companion for drivers, offering peace of mind, security, and irrefutable evidence in case of disputes or incidents on the road.

What is the Purpose of a Dash Cam?

Dash cameras act as reliable witnesses on the road, capturing essential moments that can save you time, stress, and money. Consider these scenarios:

  • Traffic Stop: You get pulled over for allegedly running a red light. Your dash cam footage reveals the light was still green. This could prevent a ticket and save license points.
  • Accidents: Accused of hitting a motorcyclist? Your dash cam shows the car beside you was the actual culprit, saving you potential legal issues.
  • Insurance Claims: Facing an insurance dispute? When witness accounts are scarce, dash cam footage offers irrefutable proof to support your claim.
  • Family Assurance: With young drivers at home, dash cams promote safety. Knowing their driving is recorded makes them exercise caution on roads.

As you can see, dash cams are invaluable tools, providing tangible evidence for various situations, from traffic disputes to insurance claims, ensuring drivers have a reliable witness on the road.

Types of Dashcams

Dashboard cameras are available in various models, each offering distinct features and capabilities. Depending on your needs, you can choose from front-facing, rear-facing, SD card storage, cloud-based, or those specifically designed for trucks.

Front-facing Dash Cams: These popular cams face the windshield, capturing the road ahead. They can feature:

  • Wide-angle views
  • Nighttime recording
  • High-resolution footage
  • Parking mode, light adjustments, and side-view recording

An example of this is the Nexar One or Kingslim D6.

picture of a nexar one dash camera installed on the windshield of a car
a picture of a kingslim d6 dashcam in my windshield

Rear-facing Dash Cams: Positioned on your car’s rear window, these record the view behind. Some kits provide both front and rear cams for simultaneous recording. They can offer:

  • Nighttime recording
  • Wide-angle views

Some even come integrated with rear-facing cameras within the main unit, such as the Kingslim D6 which I mentioned above.

image from kingslim d6 dash cam review

Other types of dashcams include:

  • SD Card Dash Cams: These save recordings in a loop on SD cards. Once full, they overwrite older data. They’re designed to detect accidents and ensure crucial footage is preserved.
  • Cloud-Based Dash Cams: These store footage online, ensuring data preservation even if the cam gets damaged. Wi-Fi or SIM card connectivity is necessary.
  • External Dash Cam Batteries: For continuous recording, especially when parked, an external battery prevents car battery drain.
  • Dash Cams for Trucks: Designed for truckers, these cams emphasize quality recording, wide-angle views, and nighttime quality. Wi-Fi or cloud storage is beneficial for extended trips.

Consider researching each type further to find the perfect match for your needs.

Popular Brands of Dashcams

When considering the purchase of a dash cam, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with top brands known for their reliability, quality, and innovative features. Some leading names in the dash cam industry include:

  • Garmin: Renowned for its navigation systems, Garmin also offers a line of high-quality dash cams with crisp video quality and additional safety features.
  • Nextbase: A leader in the dash cam sector, Nextbase cams are known for their touchscreen interfaces and impressive night vision capabilities.
  • BlackVue: Known for their sleek designs and cloud capabilities, BlackVue dash cams offer both front and rear camera options.
  • Thinkware: Featuring some of the most advanced parking modes, Thinkware is a top choice for those seeking comprehensive vehicle protection.
  • Vantrue: Recognized for their versatility, Vantrue cams often come with features like interior recording, making them popular among rideshare drivers.

Is it Legal to Have a Dashcam?

Dash cams are prevalent in the United States, but their placement is subject to specific state and local regulations. In many areas, mounting them directly on the windshield is prohibited as it might obstruct the driver’s view, making driving hazardous.

Furthermore, if your dash cam records audio or the interior of your vehicle, you may need to inform passengers, especially if driving for a service like ride-sharing. In such instances, displaying a notification sign in your car is advisable to stay compliant with privacy laws.

Related: Where to mount a dash cam

Is it Worth Getting a Dash Cam?

Absolutely, it’s worth getting a dash cam. These devices offer an objective record of incidents, helping resolve disputes in traffic violations, accidents, and insurance claims.

Additionally, they can encourage safer driving habits, especially for younger drivers. In a world where evidence is paramount, a dash cam provides drivers with an extra layer of protection and peace of mind on the road.

Pros and Cons of Dash Cams

Are you on the fence about whether to get a dash cam for your vehicle There are pros to cons to consider.

Pros of Dash Cams

Proof for your innocence in case of an accident that was not your fault or a traffic incident to avoid a ticket

Evidence of your safe driving

Surveillance and protection of your car when parked

Cons of Dash Cams

May serve as proof of your guilt in an incident where you were at fault

It may be illegal to mount on your windshield in some states

You may need to pay to have it professionally installed

Price Range and Affordability

Dash cams vary widely in terms of price, largely depending on their feature set, brand reputation, and recording quality.

  • Entry-Level (Around $50-$100): At this price point, you can find basic dash cams that offer decent video quality, often without extra features like Wi-Fi or cloud storage. These are suitable for those who want a straightforward recording solution without breaking the bank.
  • Mid-Range ($100-$200): Mid-range cams often include dual-camera systems, better night vision, and sometimes even parking modes. They balance quality and cost, making them popular among everyday drivers.
  • High-End ($200 and up): These dash cams come packed with features: high-resolution recording, advanced parking modes, cloud storage options, and more. They’re often built with superior materials, ensuring durability and longevity.

When determining which dash cam to purchase, consider what features are essential for your needs and budget. Remember, the most expensive option isn’t always the best for everyone; it’s about finding the right balance of cost and features.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Having a Dash Cam Lower Insurance?

Having a dash cam itself doesn’t typically lower insurance premiums directly. However, the footage can help expedite claims processes and prove non-fault in accidents, potentially saving drivers from rate hikes.

Some insurance companies might offer discounts for dash cam usage, but it’s best to check with individual providers.

Is it Safe to Leave a Dash Cam in my Vehicle?

It is safe to leave your dash cam in your vehicle. If you have your dash cam set to record while parked, it can even serve as a security camera to protect your vehicle.

Are you worried that someone will break into your car to steal the dash cam? The cameras aren’t as expensive as they once were.

If you have your camera recording 24/7 and the data stored in the cloud, you will have a recording of the whole incident!

Wrapping Up

Dash cams provide security and peace of mind while on the road by recording your surroundings. In the event of an accident or traffic violation, your dash cam will provide evidence of what occurred.

There are many different types of dash cams on the market. Research their features to get the best dash cam for you.

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