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Can Dash Cams Keep Drivers Safe?

By Practice Group Leader, Road Traffic Defence

Most British drivers will have been involved in or witnessed an accident on the country’s roads. 

Indeed, research carried out last year revealed that one in five new drivers in the UK had an accident in their very first year on the road.

Often, in road traffic collisions, it comes down to one person’s word against the other.

And this might explain why millions of motorists are installing dashboard cameras to provide evidence in case they find themselves involved in an incident.

I have found their usage increasingly common.

While these devices have been in existence for several years, due to the relative low cost of them and the easy installation they are becoming increasingly prevalent.

Often I find it’s motivated by drivers aiming to reduce their insurance premium but their installation has an overall positive effect.

First of all, due to the constant recording, it means that the average motorist is driving as if they are being watched which promotes safe driving at all times.

It’s also an excellent means of capturing the offending of other road users and individuals.

But what are the facts around dash cams?

Can The Footage You Record Be Used By Police?

Yes, the footage that dash cams provide can prove absolutely essential in making convictions. Police forces across the country have much depleted resources so if the motorist has the ability and foresight to have one of these devices in their car, it can prove crucial as it’s literally the difference between having some evidence and none.

Without them an incident often turns on one person’s word against the other but usually the dash cam – at least the ones I’ve seen - are very good quality and provide excellent evidence that is undeniable.

In 2015 the UK courts saw the first jail sentence dished out off the back of incriminating dash cam footage. The dangerous driver wasn't caught red-handed by police, but instead was only arrested after police were shown dash cam footage from a concerned citizen.

Are There Any Situations Where Authorities Wouldn’t Use The Recording?

Usually there are no circumstances that they are unusable because the footage can’t be denied - you’re caught red handed.

There can be technical issues though. For example, if someone is alleging speed, then it becomes an issue of calibration but they’re usually used for incidents of careless driving where the footage speaks for itself.

Also, one thing to bear in mind is that dash cams record internal audio within the car so prior to submitting the footage, it would be good to be mindful of the content of the audio.

At best it is going to be embarrassing to hear your terrible singing voice or a domestic argument played out.

Is It Legal To Record Everything That Happens Though?

In this country it is absolutely fine to film public roads but if you plan on travelling abroad it’s worth checking out the restrictions in the country you’re travelling to.

For example, they are illegal in Austria where authorities can fine users £9,000 (€10,000). In-car camera devices are also banned in Luxembourg where anyone found to have filmed in a public area can face prison time.

Will There Come A Day When We’re All Using Dash Cams?

I can certainly see that and I think it’s a good thing. I think in the future they will become mandatory and will be fitted by manufacturers because it could have a positive impact on people’s insurance premiums. They’re also an incentive to drive carefully because your own footage is being monitored.

 

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