How dash cams change driving in the 21st century

Dash cams are offering drivers a whole new world of protection while spending time on the open road. Dashcam footage has also proven to be an extremely helpful tool in court. Many people have even begun to profit from their dashcam footage on YouTube in niche videos. Can one legally utilize dashcam footage in court? What rules of the road apply to dashcam use?

Dashcams: How it All Began

Crime Scene, Corpus Christi, TX
Crime Scene, Corpus Christi, TX circa 1977 – just a few years before dash cams would be placed into all Texan Police Officer’s cars. Photo: Jay Fagan via Flickr

In the late 1980s, dash cams got their humble beginnings as an added security measure inside Texas patrol cars. Large VHS recordable devices were mounted on tripods inside the front or backseat of police vehicles to film as backup when Texan officers needed to make a stop or an arrest, and to assist with gathering data from crime scenes.

In the 1990s, civilians began to purchase and install dash cams into their own vehicles to protect themselves whilst on the road. This has led to many-a-car-crash victim having an accurate story to portray, along with visible proof to back up their eyewitness account.

Dash Cam Use has Grown Drastically in Two Decades

It used to be that parties in lawsuits would fight for the most compelling story with heresy as their best backup plan. Now, the facts can be presented as they really happened via video. So, the answer to the above question is certainly yes – dashcam video footage is almost always admissible in court – that is, as long as it directly pertains to the incident at hand.

Popularity has only grown exponentially as the years have gone on. According to Research and Markets out of Dublin, Ireland, The North America Dashboard Camera Market is expected to project a CAGR of 15.41% from 2019-2024.  It’s obvious that drivers are sensing the safeguards that these devices place on their well-being while on the road.

Law Books
Getting acquainted with the laws in your state could save you time and money in fees and fines when using a dash cam. Photo: Woody Hibbard, Flickr

Getting Acquainted with the Law

One important facet many people aren’t entirely aware of is the fact that there are legalities to using a dashcam. There are state-specific – and country-specific, for that matter – rules that must be adhered to, to ensure the safety, efficiency, and legality of everyone’s utilization of a dashcam as any sort of evidence or proof, or in video footage online.

Some places simply require people to follow the basic safety rules of the road. Others want drivers to adhere to specific rules, such as turning off their cameras when outside of private property if the camera is facing said property. Always be sure to investigate your county/state’s specific rules pertaining to using dash cams before venturing out on the road. Doing so can save you thousands of dollars in court fines, and major headaches in trying to sort issues out after the fact.

522GW NextBase Dash Cam
This is the top-rated dash cam in the world – the 522GW NextBase Dash Cam. Image: NextBase


Quality over Quantity

When it comes to choosing a dash camera, like with anything else, the more you are willing to spend, the better the quality it will be. Some dash cams have multiple views with multiple cameras in HD. There are those cameras that aren’t exactly considered to be very useful at all due to low quality. Just bear in mind the better the quality, the better your chances of capturing quality content – no matter what your intended use is for.

The top-rated dashcam in the USA is currently the  522GW NextBase Dash Cam. With a price point of a couple of hundred dollars, it’s the world’s very first dash cam with an Alexa built-in. There’s a 3-inch screen and 1440p HD, at 30 fps. as well as Bluetooth capabilities to transfer video directly to your smartphone, intelligent parking mode to watch and listen for bumps and scrapes when you’re away from the car, and more importantly, Emergency SOS. The proper authorities will be alerted should the driver become unresponsive.

Auto-Insurance Savings to be Had

Some auto insurance carriers in the United Kingdom offer a 10-15% savings for customers who have cameras installed. In 2019, Most auto insurance companies in the United States offer discounted rates to drivers with dash cameras. When a claim is filed, the insurance companies will usually accept footage captured during accidents and break-ins.

Other Interesting Anecdotes

There is even a dedicated (albeit bizarr) niche to be found on YouTube for Dash Cam footage. Compilations of crashes, hit and runs, scary footage, and crazy road rage incidents can be found within.

Driving with dash cams seems to be one of the best ways for drivers to safeguard themselves. Unruly drivers, road rage incidents, and crashes don’t stand a chance with a dash cam. I think they’re an incredible tool to have. I’m truly considering purchasing the 522GW NextBase I mentioned above for my own car.

What is your recommendation for a mix between the best quality camera and best bang for your buck? I’m all about bundling cost with quality. Let me know your recommendations in a comment below.

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