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What is a Dash Cam?

Is a dash cam right for you? Let's start with the basics

What is a dash cam?

A dash cam or dashboard camera, a device that’s exactly what the name implies, is a camera that is mounted on your vehicle’s dashboard. The basic nature of a dash cam is to act as a “silent witness” in the event of accidents - the dash cam is designed to carefully and accurately record every detail that takes place on the road.

Yet, pretty much everything you know about dash cams comes from watching the massive collection of bizarre Russian dash cam videos on YouTube. But is that all there is to the dash cam - just a device to help us record absurd LOL from-the-road videos for sharing on social media?

We receive a lot of "But I don't need a dash cam!" every day. Do you really need a dash cam? Read along to see for yourself below!

Why do I need one?

Believe it or not, dash cams are more useful than you think! While the upfront cost of it may seem expensive, dash cams have proven to help drivers SAVE money in the long run by getting them out of hit-and-runs, vehicle accidents and more. Having that peace-of-mind knowing that your vehicle is protected by your silent witness is priceless.

"I am a good driver, I don’t get into accidents ever."

This is the most commonly used excuse for not getting a dash cam. While you may have a perfect driving record, not everyone on the road is a good driver and accidents do happen. The dash cam was never intended to be an accident-prevention device but instead a recording device so that in case of an accident, you have an unbiased record of what happened.

Insurance companies and law enforcement officers are more than welcoming of dash cam footage as they paint a clear picture of what happened. Protect yourself from unnecessary hassle and nonsense - getting a dash cam is one of the best things you can do for you and your vehicle.

You don’t even need to be seriously injured or your vehicle seriously damaged for the he-said/she said blame game to start. It is always better to have a dash cam and to stay on the safe side than to have no video evidence at all.

Semi-Truck Accident Caught on a BlackVue Dash Cam

Sneaky Parking Accident Caught on Dash Cam

"I don't drive enough to need a dash cam. I already have a car alarm."

Just because your vehicle is off the road doesn’t mean it’s safe. Many types of accidents happen when you are away from your vehicle: scratches, dents, hit-and-runs, vandalism and thefts. It can be very frustrating to find your vehicle scratched or seriously damaged, knowing it was perfectly intact when you left.

Yes, the basic idea behind a car alarm system is to deter thieves and burglars, but we all know they don’t stop “smash-and-grab” vehicle break-ins. The ubiquitous car alarm going off all night in the neighborhood has become so commonplace that we’ve completely blocked it out.

Don’t be left guessing, take advantage of the dash cam’s parking surveillance features. Dash cams don’t have to stop recording just because you have turn the ignition off. These dash cams are designed to give you the peace of mind you need anytime, anywhere - you can access all data remotely from the privacy of your home using your smartphone, tablet or computer.

"I know well enough to never fall victim to insurance fraud."

We have all see the many video clips of drivers who purposely cause car accidents or pedestrians who actively try to get hit by oncoming traffic to extort money from the alleged victim and insurance companies. They may be comical to watch but they are no laughing matter if it happened to you. Scammers have many ways to get you one way or the other.

Think you're immune just because you don't live in scam-infested countries? Auto-insurance fraud happens right here at home, too! North America, auto insurance fraud is estimated to cost taxpayers upwards of $1.6 billion annually. And did you know that Miami, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, and Philadelphia are among the top cities for staged accident scams?

Don’t let scammers take advantage of you for something you haven’t even done.

Potential Insurance Fraud Caught on Dash Cam

Hit & Runs Caught on a BlackVue Dash Cam

"Would installing a dash cam lower my insurance premiums?"

Unfortunately, not all car insurance providers offer a discount for having a dash cam in your vehicle. But a dash cam can indirectly impact your insurance premiums in many ways:

  • A dash cam can capture the incident and provide vital information on who was involved and can be used as a tool in assigning fault for an accident. Without a video footage, it’ll be difficult to determine who was at-fault in an accident. This could result in your insurance premiums going up. 
  • With the built-in GPS in your dash cam, you can stamp your footage with date, time and speed and you may be able to use all that information to dispute an unfair driving ticket that could otherwise increase your car insurance premium.
  • Dash cams protect you against auto insurance fraud because they can show what really happened in a given incident. Fraud costs everyone, don’t be left paying for something you haven’t even done.

"Only the police need dash cams."

  • Are you a proud parent whose child just received their driver's license?
  • Are friends and family always asking to borrow your car?
  • Are you a fleet manager and extra miles keep adding up with no apparent reason?
  • Drive Uber/Lyft to supplement your income?

Your car may be one of your most valuable assets and it is perfectly normal to be concerned about it and its integrity. As a worried parent, proud car owner, Uber/Lyft driver or fleet manager, would you feel more at ease if you could monitor in real time the whereabouts of your vehicle?

Most dash cams come with built-in GPS and Cloud connectivity, thus in addition to recording every single detail that takes place on the road, it will also stamp it with the time, date, speed, and direction of travel. You can even watch what is happening in real-time using your smartphone, any time, anywhere. Having insight into driver habits and behaviors help parents and fleet managers address aggressive driving habits and manage reputable brand image on the road.

Road Rage Caught on a BlackVue Dash Cam

Can a GoPro be used as a Dash Cam?

"I already have a GoPro and a smartphone."

Yes, you can use your GoPro or smartphone as a dash cam. But there are things you need to take into consideration:

1) You need to find a way to securely mount your GoPro or smartphone on the dashboard or windshield. The last thing you want is your GoPro or smartphone flying across your dashboard every time you drift or perform a J-turn.

2) GoPros and smartphones are not designed to auto-start. The chances of you forgetting to start the GoPro or phone app before you start to drive are high and the results of attempting to do this midway through the drive can be devastating. Dash cams are designed to start up and shut off automatically without driver interaction.

3) Heat is the kryptonite of GoPros and smarphones. They are not designed to record long periods of time and will overheat and shut off in an attempt to cool down. Dash cams are built and tested to provide reliable recording in extreme temperatures, whether it is a sunny Texan summer afternoon or a freezing Alaskan morning.

"My drive is so boring... I can drive it with my eyes closed."

You may joke about your commute is so boring that you can drive it with your eyes closed, but this frightening sensation is no joking matter - ever had it where you remembered getting into the car and reaching the destination, but you don’t remember what happened in between? When we become too familiar with our routes, our brains runs on auto-pilot and we end up driving without consciously orientating ourselves. It happens to every driver, experienced or inexperienced.

Did you know that some dash cams come with Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) that can deliver audible warning alerts to prevent potential impediments, such as unintentional lane departure, forward collision, front vehicle departure, etc. When your tired or distracted behind the wheels, an audible warning alert might be the one thing that can help you "snap out of it" and refocus before anything worse happens.

Passenger caught stealing from Uber Driver

"I only need something that I can use to record inside my taxi / Uber / Lyft car."

In addition to a front-facing camera, many dash cams also have a cabin camera that records the interior of the vehicle, an important safety feature for taxi or rideshare driver (such as Uber and Lyft) for monitoring what goes on inside the vehicle. These in-cabin dash cams, or IR dash cams, are equipped with infrared lights that provide recording details under poorly-lit conditions, as well as total darkness. As a cab, Uber, or Lyft driver, you never know what state, or type of person, might be hopping into your car. By having a video recording, you can protect yourself from false claims that can negatively affect your standing with that company.

"I don’t want to attract thieves. Is it safe to leave a dash cam in my vehicle?"

Many new dash cam buyers are concerned that a large and colorful camera could attract thieves. There are three attributes to look at - size, shape and color. We can all agree that a smaller camera is harder to see and we know that anything than black is noticeable. The cheaper dash cams are quite large and they are very conspicuous and would probably serve as a theft magnet. Dash cams that come with an LCD screen are also generally larger in size.

If you go up the market and get a premium dash cam, these cameras are not only of much better quality offering a full range of functions, but they are much smaller. For example, the tubular design of the BlackVue allows it to be discreetly mounted behind the rear view mirror where thieves don’t notice it.

Adhesive mounts are more compact in design so not only do they not obstruct your view of the road, they allow your dash cam to sit closer to the windshield than a suction mount.

Try Our 2-Minute Product Recommendation Quiz

The best dash cam for you isn't the same for everyone, but it's the one that suits your wants and needs. Complete our form below to find the dash cam for you! It will serve as a good starting point in your research.

If you have any questions afterwards or you'd like to speak to someone about it, don't hesitate to contact our support team.