With more drivers than ever fitting dash cams to their vehicles – and prices lower than ever – there has been no better time to buy one for yourself.
The best dash cams are small, affordable, simple to install and use, and some models even include driver assistance systems like speed camera alerts. But most importantly, the footage their capture can be used as evidence if you are caught in a traffic incident.
Here are eight reasons to buy yourself a dash cam in 2021:
1. Prove you weren’t to blame in an accident
The single biggest reason to get a dash cam is how the footage they record can be used as evidence in the event of an incident. Most dash cams record constantly, over-writing the oldest footage to stop the memory card from getting full, while storing any footage record when a collision is detected.
This footage, of the precious few seconds before, during and after a collision is detected, could prove crucial is proving your innocence and ensuring the right person is convicted. Many dash cams also have a button for quickly saving the last few seconds of video, so if you see an incident that your vehicle isn’t involved with directly, that forage could prove valuable to someone else too.
2. Lower your insurance premium
Some insurance companies offer discounted premiums for drivers who have a dash cam fitted to their vehicle. The HD video they record can prove invaluable in the event of a collision, helping to settle disputes with indisputable evidence, instead of relying on varying eyewitness accounts.
As well as helping to show who is to blame, a dash cam is also likely to make its owner drive more responsibly too, knowing they are being recorded and their own video could potentially be used against them.
3. Keep an eye on your car while parked
Some dash cams only work when the car is switched on, but many others can be hard-wired to the vehicle. This allows them to work when the car is parked and switched off, drawing enough energy from the battery to power the camera without preventing the car from starting at a later date.
In parking mode, dash cams keep their G-sensor switched on, and when movement is detected they instantly fire into life and record footage – potentially of the aftermath of someone crashing into your parked car, or causing damage in some other way.
4. Equip your car with driver assistance features
Some dash cams include driver assistance systems, like speed camera alerts and notifications that get your attention if the traffic ahead has started moving while you aren’t looking. Some models of dash cam also include lane-departure warnings and forward collision warnings, sounding an alarm if it thinks you are going to hit the vehicle in front.
These features won’t be for everyone, and personally we prefer our dash cams to silently get on with their primary role, but for other drivers alerts about red light and speed cameras could prove useful.
5. They are more affordable than ever
Previously something of a luxury, dash cams are now remarkably cheap. Some can be snapped up for as little as £25 / $30, and even these models record footage in Full HD 1080p resolution through a wide-angle lens.
However, image quality is the single most important feature of any dash cam, so we recommend spending a little more to ensure your saved videos are as clear as possible – at day, night and in all weather conditions – to ensure details like number plates and road signs are legible.
When buying from a reputable brand like Garmin or Nextbase you should expect to pay in the region of £100 / $120 to £200 / $220.
6. To record a road trip
Perhaps a niche use, we admit, but a dash cam can be used as a simple way to collect footage of a road trip. Pointing forwards with a wide view of the road ahead, the camera quietly records every mile of the journey, which you could then turn into a timelapse or use as part of a larger video project.
Some dash cams, like those from Garmin, can be made to record in unison with each other, where up to four cameras on one vehicle record in sync, giving you a complete view of your surroundings.
7. Help with driving tuition
If you are a parent planning to teach their child how to drive, or feel you could offer them some extra tuition on top of their lessons, a dash cam could help. Not only will it keep a watchful eye out for incidents involving other road users, but the footage can be reviewed back to give your child/student advice on their driving and how to improve their skills.
With wide lenses often of around 170 degrees, the view of a dash cam usually includes the entire windscreen, as well as the out extremities of the vehicle, helping show where the driver is positioned in their lane.
8. To stay safe when carrying passengers
If you are a professional taxi or minicab driver, you should certainly invest in a dash cam. But as well as recording a view of the road ahead some models of dash cam can simultaneously record inside the vehicle too. The Garmin Dash Cam Tandem does exactly this by fitting two cameras into one compact body.
That way, you get footage of the road ahead but also a nice wide view of the interior, clearly showing you and all of your passengers. If you tend to carry passengers at night this can help offer peace of mind and also provide you with evidence in case anything untoward happens. Don’t forget to display a sign inside the car clearly stating that passengers are being recorded.
Now, with all of these great reasons to buy a dash cam, you can head to T3's guide to the best dash cams to make sure you're buying with confidence.