A Beginners Guide to Dash Cams: Everything You Need to Know
Are you thinking about getting a dash cam for your vehicle? Great! Installing a video recorder is something all drivers can benefit from. But if you’re new to the world of dash cams, you probably have a few questions. Well, we’re here to help.
In this article, we’re going to cover everything you need to know, including the various types of devices, legal considerations, key features, and the benefits of a dash cam. So, get ready to take your driving experience to the next level, and let’s talk about dash cams.
What Are Dash Cams?
Dash cams are compact video recorders that are mounted on a vehicle’s dashboard or windshield and sometimes outside of the vehicle. They capture footage of the road or passengers inside while the vehicle is being driven. The primary purpose of dash cams is to document accidents or other incidents, which may be helpful in resolving issues or deterring fraudulent claims. Most of these devices use a wide-angle lens, GPS tracking, G-sensors, and other features to provide the most comprehensive, useful footage possible. Dash cams are a great source of security for all types of driving.
Is it Legal to Use a Dash Cam?
In most cases, dash cams are perfectly legal. Some countries, states, or municipalities may have laws that prohibit installing cams on certain parts of the car. For example, in the state of Alabama, drivers cannot mount cams on a vehicle’s windshield, but dashboard mounting is allowed.
But what about the legality of recording in public and private spaces?
Drivers are allowed to capture video footage while driving in public areas. However, permission is typically needed to film on private grounds. Laws regarding audio recording in public and private spaces aren’t as universal as video recording (they tend to be stricter).
Dash cams are not considered to be an invasion of privacy as long as they are used appropriately (drivers are expected to respect the privacy of others). Certain laws may only allow footage that contains license plate numbers or people’s faces to be used as evidence. So, research the laws in your local area to ensure you follow the rules.
Different Types of Dash Cams
Front-Facing Dash Cams
Front dash cams are mounted on windshields and dashboards and record footage of what is in front of the vehicle. These are sometimes referred to as one-channel cams. Although they only capture video in one direction, they are sufficient in providing records of accidents and incidents while the car is in motion or parked.
Two-Channel Dash Cams
Two-channel dash cams, or dual cams, record front and rear footage or front and interior footage, depending on the product. These devices use two cams that can be controlled together. The cams are mounted on the front dashboard or windshield or back windshield.
Three-Channel Dash Cams
Three-channel dash cams record front, rear, and interior footage. They use three separate units to record each angle simultaneously. Using a three-channel dash cam is a great option for full coverage of a vehicle while in motion or parked.
Important Dash Cams Features to Consider
High-Quality Video (HDR/WDR)
Find a dash cam that shoots high-quality videos to capture clear details for decisive evidence. Today, there are several options with 4k and 1080p capabilities. Likewise, look for cams with high dynamic range (HDR) or wide dynamic range (WDR) features. HDR and WDR help capture high-quality footage in various lighting conditions, such as sunny days or dark evenings.
Having a dash cam with a wide-angle lens is crucial to capture more of the vehicle’s surroundings. On the market, there are several cams with view angles between 120° to 180°. The best dash cam will have an angle of around 150° is considered ideal for capturing a broad field without distorted images.
Look for a dash cam that’s user-friendly and easy to install. A simple installation process won’t require special tools or abilities, ensuring you can use the device hassle-free as soon as possible. Products with a complicated installation process are more likely to be mounted incorrectly. Likewise, they will be more difficult to remove for regular maintenance.
Loop recording is a key feature that allows dash cams to record without storage disruption. When storage is full, the camera will overwrite old files with new recordings. When an accident or incident occurs, it’s important to immediately download and saves the footage to prevent it from being lost. Some cams also come with smart technology that detects hard braking and collisions and automatically save the clips.
Time and Date Display
A good dash cam will display the time and date on the footage. If an accident or event happens, the recording will help verify the events that occurred. This is especially important to establish reliable evidence and provide context for legal proceedings, which is one of the top benefits of a dash cam.
Steps to Choose the Best Dash Cam
1. Know Your Budget
Figure out how much you’re willing to spend on a car dashcam. Knowing your budget will help you eliminate products, narrowing your search. Expect to pay more for a dual dash cam, 4k dash cam, or other car cam with high-tech features.
2. Outline Desired Features
What do you want from your car dash cam? Some people may want a front and back cam, while others may prefer a simple one-channel cam. Think about what you want to achieve with your car recorder and search for products that check those boxes.
3. Research Reputable Brands
There’s an endless amount of companies that sell dash cams, but not all of them produce reputable products. Once you know your budget and what type of features you want, sift through different brands to see your options. Don’t just choose the first company that you find. Do your due diligence to ensure you’re making a smart decision.
4. Read Reviews
Check online reviews of products you find to be a good fit. User reviews are an excellent way to learn about real-world performance, user-friendliness, and longevity. Take all comments into consideration to make an informed decision and to avoid surprises.
5. Check Warranty Coverage
Before you commit to a car dash cam, check the company’s warranty policies. Ideally, you want to see a long warranty period, indicating that the company is confident in its product’s longevity and performance. Also, check to see what the warranty covers. Knowing that the company will handle defects and malfunctions is a major plus.
The Benefits of a Dash Cam
Document Accident Evidence
The primary benefit of front and rear dash cams is documenting evidence in the case of an accident or other incident on the road. Think of these cams as your personal witness. The footage will act as evidence, and you can send it to legal authorities or insurance companies to verify events and who was at fault. Having a dash cam is especially helpful in serious accidents involving injuries. Keep in mind that dash cam footage can be used against the owner.
Monitor New Drivers
Parents may want to monitor their children as they begin driving alone for the first time. Car dash cams will allow you to observe driving behaviors and ensure your kids are adhering to traffic laws. A good dash cam will automatically save hard-braking incidents or collisions so that you can analyze what happened. Parents may also be interested in interior dash cams to make sure their kids aren’t texting and driving.
Provide Evidence of Witnessed Accidents
It’s not uncommon to witness accidents that don’t involve your vehicle. The footage your dash cam captures of the surrounding area can act as evidence for the people involved. Additionally, if you encounter a reckless or intoxicated driver, you can submit the recordings to law enforcement. Dash cams are a wonderful tool for you to promote road safety and hold others accountable for their actions.
Dash cams can act as a preventive measure to stop thieves from breaking into your car. A car cam that is noticeable enough may deter someone from targeting the vehicle. Even if a break-in still occurs, a dash cam can help law enforcement identify the criminal. So, be mindful about where you place the car cam, and consider placing a notice sticker on the back windshield to prevent robberies.
Remember Road Trips
Dash cams are great for documenting accidents, monitoring new drivers, and preventing theft, but that’s not all. One of the great benefits of a dash cam is that it will capture footage of all the beautiful landscapes you drive through during a road trip. And an interior cam will document all those hilarious moments and sing-along sessions you never want to forget. At the end of the trip, you’ll have enough footage to put together an epic montage of the experience.
Don’t underestimate the usefulness of a good dash cam. These devices provide indisputable evidence that clearly shows which party is responsible for causing an accident. Installing a car cam is like having a personal videographer with you at all times. Today, there are several options at various price points to ensure you find the perfect match for you. So, get ready to enhance your driving experience, and get your dash cam today!