Cyclist with a knee injury sitting on the road next to his bicycle and a car, holding his knee in pain

According to the AA, the number of people owning a dashcam has jumped from 1% to 15% in just four short years. Separate research from GDK reveals that sales of dashboard cameras have increased an enormous 918% in the last 12 months alone.

For those who haven’t heard of them, a dashboard or dash cam is a surveillance camera that is wired into the car. It starts filming when you start the engine and records continuously; most have built-in memory. You can choose from front-view cameras that film the road ahead or front and rear cameras that also keep an eye on what’s happening behind your vehicle. Another option is cabin view dashcams, which taxi drivers and car services commonly use to monitor what’s taking place inside the vehicle.

So why are dashcams becoming so popular?

The most persuasive reasons you might want to fit a Dashcam in your car

1. Vital evidence in insurance fraud cases

Aviva reported in November that the number of ‘crash for cash’ cases had reached an all-time high. This is where organised criminal gangs fraudulently cause a road traffic accident to claim compensation for whiplash and other injuries. These incidents often involve a driver braking suddenly in situations where the driver behind cannot avoid colliding with their vehicle. In court, it is usually deemed likely that the driver who crashed into the back of another vehicle was at fault, and it can be very difficult to prove otherwise.

Aviva’s research shows that the number of ‘crash for cash’ cases was 21% higher in November 2017 than in 2013 and that 50% involved organised criminal gangs. Commenting on these startling figures, Aviva’s Tom Gardiner told the Guardian:

“Crash for cash is not just a financial problem – it’s a serious social problem. No other form of insurance fraud puts the public at risk of serious injury,”

“Last year, Aviva found these accidents increased by 51%, and they continue to grow. Part of the growth is coming as fraudsters move away from a small number of hot spot locations to a much wider footprint.”

Installing a dashcam in your car could end a fraudster’s ambition to claim compensation for their negligent driving, which can also leave you out of pocket if you have to pay an excess for a new car if yours is written off and higher insurance premiums. A dash cam provides you with the vital evidence you may need to prove to a court that you were not at fault and had been a victim of a ‘crash for cash' scam.

2. Evidence in other road traffic accidents

Even if you weren’t a victim of a ‘crash for cash’ scam, you would still find dashcam footage extremely useful if you’re involved in any other road traffic accident. In these situations, emotions often run high, and it can quickly turn into a war of words at the side of the road, with both parties accusing the other of making a mistake or an error in judgement. If you can prove exactly what happened using your dashcam footage, this can help to straighten everything out quickly and without all that stress and confusion. This can speed up insurance claims, as there are no or fewer disputes concerning exactly what happened.

3. Lower insurance premiums

While not many insurers offer discounts for drivers with dashcams in their vehicles, some do – and the discounts can be quite considerable. This is because insurers can use the footage to assess your competence and safety as a driver, which can help them to calculate the risk you represent from an insurance point of view. However, some insurers insist that you use a dashcam from a list of approved brands, and you’ll also need to factor the cost of buying the camera into your decision.

4. Catch parking accident culprits

Many dashcams are battery-powered or rechargeable, so you can use them even if your car is not in motion. One of the handiest uses for dashcams in stationary cars is to capture the culprits of parking accidents on film. There’s nothing more annoying than returning to your car to find that someone has dinged it or, worse, driven off, so you have no clue about their identity. Crucially, you’re left footing the bill for the damage in these situations.

With a sneaky dashcam recording everything, you can capture the licence plate, make, model and colour of the car, ready to report to your insurer or the authorities. You may even capture the vehicle's driver on your camera, especially if they get out to inspect the damage before hopping back in and driving off.

5. Safer cycling

Many cyclists feel safer out on the roads when a type of cycle-friendly dashcam is fitted to their bikes or helmets. Sadly, motorists do not always have the respect for cyclists that they should have, leading to dangerous behaviour, road rage, driving too close, near-misses and life-threatening collisions. A dash cam can protect the cyclist as a deterrent to drivers who think they can get away with abusing a cyclist on the roads. Secondly, a dashcam gathers vital evidence to help cyclists pursue justice in cases where a negligent motorist would otherwise drive away.

What to look for when shopping for a dashcam

There are a few different types and brands of dashboard surveillance cameras around, and choosing the right one is important. If not, you could end up with virtually useless footage. When shopping for dashcams, look out for the following:

  • * Image quality - especially in different weather conditions.
  • * GPS functionality – an extra tool to help pinpoint the location.
  • * G-force sensors – these sensors can detect unexpected, excessive force and log the severity of the impact.

You will also need to decide whether you want front, front and rear or cabin view dashcams and how they will fit securely into your vehicle without obstructing your view of the road.