If you are in an accident, the police and insurance companies will need to figure out who is at fault and who to charge. In the past, this was done by asking questions and conducting reviews of the damage and scene of the accident. Police officers would then assign blame based on the facts available. The problem with this is that officers are human and mistakes can be made.
While the number of times this has actually happened is likely small, mistakes can nevertheless have an impact on drivers, especially when it comes to insurance. If you are deemed to be at fault for an accident (yet you are sure you aren't) any insurance claims submitted may be rejected, and you will likely see an increase in your premiums. Not to mention the fact that you will also likely receive demerit points on your license, which could put your ability to drive in jeopardy. This can be a tough pill to swallow.
In recent years, however, there have been a number of tech devices introduced that can help reduce the chances of the wrong person being assigned blame. One such device is the dash cam. Here we take a look at these increasingly popular devices and recommend some popular ones for your consideration.
What exactly is a dash cam?
Dash cams, or Digital Video Recorders, are essentially small cameras that you can mount on your windshield. These cameras record the road ahead, or behind, your car. We are sure you have already seen at least one of the thousands of dash cam videos currently on YouTube that prove these devices can be incredibly useful.
How do they work?
As we stated above these video cameras are most commonly mounted on your dash or windshield (usually below your rear-view mirror). Most models are powered in one of two ways, the first being via the cigarette outlet or power outlet in the front of the car. The second being hardwired directly to the battery of the vehicle. The reason for using these power methods instead of rechargeable batteries like those found in smartphones is that the cameras are designed to be continually recording, with some models even able to record when the vehicle is not on or moving.
In order to support continuous recording, these cameras usually have a fair amount of storage space, with the average camera having 16GB of storage space, and the ability to capture high definition footage. When the storage space is full, the camera will usually automatically delete the footage and start recording again.
If you want to remove footage from the camera (an accident for example), most units have USB ports which allow you to connect them to your computer and transfer the footage to your hard drive, like any other digital camera.
What makes a good dash cam?
When it comes to selecting a dash cam, each driver will have different requirements. For example, cab drivers may want a camera that records not only the road ahead but also what is going on behind the driver - these cameras are called Dual Channel or Front and Back cameras. On the other hand, drivers who spend a lot of time with their car parked in public lots may want cameras that record both in front and behind the car.
That being said, there are a number of features that will be useful to all drivers here in Hong Kong. These include:
A decent amount of storage space and the ability to add more - Many cameras come with onboard storage similar to your smartphone. The best cameras have expandable memory slots, which means you can purchase an SD card and plug it into the device for increased storage.
A good lens - A strong lens allows for clearer recordings and overall higher quality images. The best cameras will have a higher megapixel count (usually 3 or higher) and a recording resolution of at least 1080p (high definition).
The ability to plug into your vehicle's power supply - As we stated above most dash cams are able to connect to your vehicle's power supply either directly or via a plug like your cigarette lighter or 12v plug in newer cars. Some cheaper models have rechargeable batteries. While this may sound like a good idea, it will likely mean removing the device every night to charge it, as many rechargeable batteries can only power the device for a few hours.
G-sensor - A G-sensor is a feature available in some cameras that will automatically store and save a set amount of footage before and after a high impact e.g., sudden braking or a collision, is detected. This feature functions similar to an airplane's black box and can be useful evidence for the insurance claims process.
Parking mode - This feature allows the camera to continue recording when the vehicle is parked. It will usually record lower quality images until either the G-sensor is triggered or the vehicle is turned on.
Looped video recording - This feature works similar to many security cameras in that footage is stored until the device's memory is full. It is then deleted and replaced by new footage. If you are going to be driving a fair amount, then this is a valuable feature to have.
Models recommended by Kwiksure staff
When you start looking for a dash cam, you will quickly come to realize that the market is quite saturated with devices available for all budgets. Our staff have used a number of different cams and when asked recommended a number of manufacturers to consider:
Blackvue - Has developed a large range of cameras that cover all budgets. Some cameras can support dual channels and large amounts of storage space.
Garmin - Incredibly popular GPS maker who now also produces dash cams. Many devices have built-in GPS that can track the car's position along with footage. The Garmin Dash Cam 35 is among the best devices currently available.
Lukas - A China-based manufacturer that has a number of affordable dash cams that offer clear image recording and important features.
There are a number of retailers in the city who carry dash cams, and some can even install them while you wait. One thing to be aware of is that it is important to test the devices before installing them in your car, as some newer cars may require slight modifications to the switchboard, which, if not done before installing the dash cam, could cause electric issues.
How can these devices help car insurance claims?
Possibly the biggest reason to purchase a dash cam and install it in your car is that the footage can be a big help when it comes to submitting an insurance claim. The footage can be used as evidence to help prove who was at fault, and has been proven to help reduce collision-related fraud.
If you are in an accident, you can submit the footage to both the police and motor insurance provider quickly and easily, which can also help expedite the claims process. Of course, it would be a good idea to also secure car insurance from a reputable provider. Contact the experts at Kwiksure to learn more about your options today.