The 10 Best Car Dash Cameras
If Your Car Had Eyes
Anyone who's been driving for more than a few weeks has a story to tell.
Sometimes people's cars get smashed; sometimes people get hurt.
Anyone who's been driving for more than a few weeks has a story to tell. It usually involves another driver on the road doing something so mind-bendingly stupid that it takes all of your will power not to pull off to the side of the road and scream endless strings of profanities at the innocent dandelions growing there.
Sometimes those stories end with something more tragic than a flash of road rage. Sometimes people's cars get smashed; sometimes people get hurt. You can try to explain what happened to the police, but they're liable to arrive on the scene after you've moved your cars out of the way of traffic, and then it's your word against that of the other driver.
Having a dashcam installed in your vehicle can do wonders for bringing the truth of an accident to the forefront of its investigation. That can save you a tremendous amount of money in legal fees and insurance hikes, and it's as easy as applying a suction cup to your windshield and plugging the device into your AC port or cigarette lighter.
Once plugged in, most dash cams will power on and start recording to an internal SD card as soon as your car's engine starts. That recording is a well-compressed high definition feed that can make sense of almost any event on the road, drinking in light through a simple, low-element lens that can often double as an infrared recorder for night footage.
It's like giving your car its very own set of cat's eyes without that creepy cataract reflection.
The Law's Not Always On Your Side
Currently, insurance companies in Russia and the UK actually offer insurance discounts to drivers who install dashcams in their cars. Not only is it their thinking that the footage can save precious man hours during a dispute or investigation, but both of those regions deal with a much higher rate of insurance fraud than the companies stateside, and dashcam footage makes that kind of grift much harder to perpetrate.
Each state has its own unique statues regarding audio and video recording of police and citizens.
There are no such discounts currently in the US, and the use of dashcam footage in claim investigations and disputes is currently without any defined policy from the top five insurance providers. So, you aren't liable to see a ton of savings coming your way unless you get a tech-savvy claims adjuster on the line who's interested in using the lack of a policy as permission to utilize dashcam footage to help a customer. When was the last time you got customer service that thorough from an insurer? Yeah, I thought so.
Where the footage from your dashcam might prove indispensable, though, is in a criminal case. In the unfortunate instance where you find yourself on the business end of a vehicular litigation, be it a reckless driving allegation, vehicular manslaughter, or some such nightmare, the only proof of your innocence (provided you are innocent) could lie in your dashcam footage.
Be careful where the law's concerned, though. Each state has its own unique statues regarding audio and video recording of police and citizens. Be sure to review your state's statutes before installing your dashcam, lest you find yourself under arrest for an illegal wire tap.
Bad Boys, Bad Boys...
I watched a lot of bad television growing up, especially when I was home sick from school. Fox had the most notorious lineup of trashy mid-day talk shows and bleeding lead news. But it was their reliable airing of one show that kept me tuning in. That show was COPS.
COPS came about in an age before reality TV, and yet it proves that the age of reality TV had already begun. Harsh lighting, bad acting, staged arguments, and absolute train wrecks of human beings–in short, the necessary ingredients of a good reality show–were all accounted for.
The first of these cameras came along in the 1980s, and both their size and their reliance on VHS tapes made them poor, bulky options for inclusion in a police cruiser.
One source of footage of which the show took sporadic advantage, was the police dashcam. The first of these cameras came along in the 1980s, and both their size and their reliance on VHS tapes made them poor, bulky options for inclusion in a police cruiser.
Over the intervening years, however, more and more citizens came to own video recording equipment, and it became imperative for the police to adopt a practice that could protect them from doctored or biased video that could wrongfully incriminate them. Into the 90s, dashcams were ubiquitous in most police cars, and the footage they recorded was a part of the public record, accessible to the producers of COPS with the filing of some relatively simple paperwork.
That show burned the perspective of the dashcam into our collective unconscious, and as the technology got smaller, smarter, and cheaper, manufacturers saw an opportunity in the market for everyday people to make good use of the cameras.
As noted above, the trend exploded in Russia and around Europe, and is becoming more popular in the US. In recent years, public outrage over police abuses caught on municipal dashcams, citizens' cell phones, and other surveillance equipment has increased the gulf of trust between police departments and the neighborhoods they patrol. Community leaders and citizens alike hope that devices like dashcams can bring greater parity and accountability to corrupt systems and broken communities.