/ Motoring, Technology

Would you buy a dashboard camera for your car?

Car crash

Criminals are causing crashes on our roads in order to extort money from car insurers. Would you fit a camera to your car’s dashboard to protect yourself from ‘crash-for-cash’ scams?

Car insurance is one of the priciest parts of owning a car. Despite recent claims that premiums are lower than last year, they’re being pushed up by both uninsured drivers and criminals who’re staging accidents to make money from insurance companies.

Crash-for-cash scams hit the road

Crash-for-cash scams revolve around criminals slamming on their brakes without warning and causing innocent people driving behind to crash into them. The scammers then submit fraudulent insurance claims, covering everything from false whiplash claims, loss of earnings, as well as fake bills for the recovery of their car, repairs, vehicle storage and replacement car hire.

There have even been reports of criminals staging accidents by flashing their lights at other drivers to signal that they’re letting them out of junctions, to then deliberately drive into them. Also known as ‘flash-for-cash’ scams, this particular tactic has become popular due to the fact that it’s very hard for victims to prove that the scammers flashed them.

According to the Metropolitan Police, crash-for-cash scams reportedly cost insurers nearly £400m a year and could be adding an extra £50-100 to innocent drivers’ annual premiums.

Would you buy a car dashcam?

One way of protecting yourself against false claims is to fit a camera to your dashboard to film the road ahead. These cameras are already popular in countries like Russia where car insurance scams are common. Of course, ‘dashcams’ can also help you in legitimate accidents, as Ian Crowder of the AA explains:

‘They can be very helpful in the event of an accident to work out who was involved and who was to blame. Footage could be useful to support an insurance claim. The insurance industry would consider them to be a good thing.’

So, would you buy a dashcam to protect yourself on the road? And would it affect the way you drive if you knew that your driving was being filmed?

Would you buy a dashboard camera for your car?

Yes (59%, 632 Votes)

Maybe (22%, 237 Votes)

No (15%, 166 Votes)

I don't own a car (4%, 45 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,080

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Comments
Member

Shame there’s no link or tag to more info on dashboard cameras… I plan to research these dashcams to see what’s available. My number one requirement would be that they are removable, preferably with simple plug in/plug out connections, as I would not be able to leave the device in my vehicle due to theft – the cam would be snatched almost the instant I parked, where I live!! I also hope to find a helmet-cam for my son’s motorbike helmet, to serve the same purpose as the ones in cars. It is just a pity that society has sunk so low that we now need these cameras on board – I think the crash-for-cash scams are despicable.

Member

Hi there,
on the subject of ‘point of view’ (POV) cameras, I use a Drift HD Ghost camera mounted on my motorcycle helmet and also use it (via suction mount) on the car windscreen for EVERY car journey. It provides superb ‘TV quality’ imagery with remote wireless control. It’s waterproof and tough. I used it extensively during my training for my Institute of Advanced Motorcyclists test, and continue to use it. It comes with a range of mounting options and accessories – I’ve just ordered a chest harness for shoulder mounting. It’s not cheap, (£300), but you get what you pay for. I power it via a 12v source both on bike & car but if this was interrupted for any reason, the camera’s battery ‘kicks in’ seamlessly without compromising the recording (5+ hours on the SD card). The camera has recorded endless hours of superb motorcycle and car footage, not to mention some atrocious, aggressive and downright antisocial (and dangerously illegal) driving by other road users. Oh, and I get 10% off my insurance for having the camera in use, (in addition for the 20% reduction for being an IAM member). I now wonder how I ever rode (and drove) without this device. In the event of a road traffic incident, it’s often your word against theirs – but the camera never lies.
I hope this is of help!

Member

Dear Sean, thank you so much for all your info and advice, it definitely is helpful. And well done and congratulations on achieving the IAM! My son has only just passed his full motorcycling tests, and I am sure he’ll want to go for the IAM once he’s had a few more road miles’ experience (and had a chance to save up !). So I will pass on your advice 🙂

Member

Thank you for your kind comments!
The (£139) cost of joining the IAM includes all tuition, both theory lectures, practical tuition and the cost of the test itself. Believe me – it’s worth EVERY PENNY! (Bear in mind, you could spend that on a pair of motorcycle gloves!). The IAM experience has literally saved my life, as I think back to countless driving & riding experiences where I think ‘before I did the Advanced training, I’d never have seen that coming…’ etc. We train people to Police Class 1 Advanced standard – the same as Police get. I also use much less fuel than before, as an added bonus!
The training, combined with the video recording of every ride is keeping me alive. As we say: ‘Great roads. Great bike. Great rider?’… There’s always something to spend 140 quid on, but if your life (or the life of someone close to you), matters a lot, is that not worth the money? As a Nurse (for over 20 years), I’ve seen (and continue to see) the results of bad decisions made on the UK’s roads. The majority of it is preventable and nearly always due to driver or rider error. You need EVERY edge in your favour to stay alive on Britain’s congested roads. Good training, a well maintained machine and video evidence of your journey will go a long way.
Take care and stay safe!
Regards, Sean.

Member

Hi Blackheath Howler,

There are a vast range of dashcams out there from very basic £15 recorders to sophisticated cameras that cost hundreds of pounds. Some insurers approve certain cameras and give users a discount and this Chilli Bongo is approved by at least one insurer, though it’s not cheap: http://www.chillibongo.com/shopping/products/3-Full-Camera-Systems/1-CB-100HD-Full-HD-1080p-In-Car-Camera-System/

Here’s a slightly cheaper option too: http://domestic.roadhawk.co.uk/roadhawk-720-dash-camera

Member

Both the expensive and cheap models only point in one direction. I would have thought, for it to be effective, it would have had to be a cylindrical device with at least four lenses to give a 360 degree view, as you don’t know where the other car is going to hit you from.

Member

Maybe one of the perks of working for Google Street View. 🙂

Member

You’re not going to realistically get a ‘dash camera’ that covers 360 degrees! The easiest solution would be to have a front AND rear camera – more money and a bit fiddly, but possible. The Police have 3 ‘Go Pro’ cameras in the cars: one front, one rear and an internal one filming the rear seats (for obvious reasons). My Drift HD Ghost has a 170 degree angle lens so it covers a wide front angle and covers most of the side and front views.. On the bike helmet, it also covers the bike’s instrument panels and the rear mirrors – conveniently giving a record of the vehicles behind. It’s a matter of simply selective positioning of the camera.!

Member
Niki says:
17 May 2014

I agree on the comment about the link… I found this conversation whilst looking for reviews on Which? for dashboard cameras, and there aren’t any.
Come on Which?!!

Member

My question is, why can’t the car makers manufacture cars with built-in front and rear digital video camera even as ‘extra?’ This way the camera eye can be optimality mounted on the car. The technology is out there, but why are they not doing this?

Member

The deliberate collision scams are predicated on the insurance convention that the driver behind is liable in a shunt and that drivers waiting at junctions must give way to traffic on the through road. Because the financial penalty of a claim will be against the driver who followed too close, fitting a forward-facing camera might be a worthwhile expense, but it won’t do much to help the driver who emerged from a junction in response to a flash of the headlights, so the culprits would no doubt switch to that tactic. It would be useful to know more about how the insurance claims are handled and investigated, especially since they surely must be vigorously disputed by the wronged driver. I am not satisfied that insurance companies put enough effort and resources into investigating suspected false claims – especially whiplash – as it is quicker and perhaps cheaper to settle and move on. Motor insurance has become so competitive and disloyal [on both sides] that companies do not see the strategic benefit of catching out and prosecuting false claimants. The dangers of the crash scams, and the potential for secondary collisions, are truly alarming and I would hope that, when caught, the perpetrators will be tried for attempted manslaugher in addition to the stadard dangerous driving and fraudulent claim offences.

Member

I have just returned from two weeks in Russia and you are right to mention that dashboard video cameras are very popular there. However, the scam is quite different from what happens in the UK; in Russia the police are in on the scam too. Pedestrians deliberately jump in front of slow-moving vehicles and then lie down on the ground, falsely claiming to be injured.

In the following video, jump ahead to 3:23 for the best example:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=cYrjyk0q4N0#t=203s

In this example, the police immediately turn up (given that they are actively participating in the scam), but as soon as they realise that the “offending” vehicle has a dashboard video camera, they abandon the scam and drive off.

Member

You do a lot of globe trotting. Did you visit Ed Snowdon when in Russia?

Member

Not sure – it seems a waste of technology and a lot of hassle for what could be a one-time event. And how would a cheap after fitment camera know to stop, after say 30 minutes, if the unfortunate driver was seriously injured or distracted by a collision with one of these low lifes?

Now, if there was a scheme where responsible drivers were offered a free car-cam in exchange for uploading videos they just happen to capture of drivers using mobile phones, committing traffic light contraventions, tailgating, speeding and similar offences, and they were awarded 10% of the fixed penalty fees, I think many of us would be very happy to accommodate a car-cam as a social service – not to mention being rewarded with about £50-£100 per day for the trouble.

Sounds like a win-win solution for all except the law breakers and criminals! And if they don’t like it, they can stay off the roads.

Member

It might only happen as a ‘one time event’ – but the one time it happened to a colleague of mine, it resulted in her (£8000 car) being written off! she later said that a £100 camera would have been a small price to pay. (Her insurers actually said that video evidence would have cleared up her case easily – the moron that hit her was texting on her phone whilst driving, but it was my colleague’s word against the other driver. My camera might easily have picked that up). And there is no ‘hassle’. There’s no complex wiring involved. you just fit it to the screen, turn on and drive. If you can suction a sat nav to the glass, you can do the same with a camera. If you were worried about when the camera ‘knows when to stop’, get one with video tagging and don’t be a skinflint buying cheap crap. People will spend £200 pound or more on car accessories in other categories, but begrudge spending more than fifty quid on a device that could decide the outcome in court! Don’t forget also – I get 10% off my insurance for having a (approved) camera. So really, it’s not a ‘waste of technology’, nor is it ‘a lot of hassle’…

Member

Could you please tell me which insurer you use to get your 10% discount for having a dashcam? Thanks.

Member
Nick says:
31 August 2013

I have GoPro camera that I have mounted on my helmet for my cycle commute to/from work and I believe it makes a difference in:
i) Motorists noticing it and stopping to think before attempting a manoeuvre that might endanger me e.g. Pulling out at a roundabout or junction
ii) Motorists putting away their handheld mobile phones for fear of being being caught on camera
iii) Professional drivers (taxis, delivery drivers) being more courteous

In the nine months I have had the camera I have had two drivers cautioned (and probably fined and given penalty points) by the police for mobile phone use and driving without due care and attention.

That said, a 32Gb memory card only holds about six hours of footage, which needs to be regularly deleted or stored and (less of a problem in a car than on a bicycle) the battery needs recharging every one to one and a half hours of use.

I also drive a car and wouldn’t consider a dashboard mounted camera or re-using my current one in the car. The hassle of mounting and removing the camera and plugging it in for every journey would soon become tiresome, as well as frequently clearing the card.

The risk to a cyclist from a bad driver is far more likely to be fatal than the risk to a motorist, and a helmet-mounted camera is a highly visible deterrent to bad driving, whereas a dash-mounted camera is not a visible deterrent, but a means of recording an event that is highly unlikely, and even less likely to be fatal to the motorist.

There are bad drivers out there, but if you drive sensibly you’re far less likely to have an accident with one.

Member

I have no ‘hassle’ in swapping my camera from helmet mount to windscreen mount. I unscrew from the helmet clip, screw onto the suction mount (both are standard 3/4″ threads), and slap it against the glass! Less time than it takes to sit in the car,adjust the seat & mirrors (after my short wife has used it!) and fire up the engine. Camera transfer takes about 30 seconds usually, including plugging in the 12v lead. I format the SD card about three times/week. This involves pressing three buttons (on a Drift HD Ghost that is…). But I too have had drivers caught on their phones and provided independent video evidence when I was positioned (on the m/bike, camera on shoulder harness mount) behind two cars, when the car in front of me tried to swerve and ‘cut in front’ of the adjacent car at the lights as she was in the wrong lane. She ripped the bumper of her victim’s car and then tried to say HE did it. I pulled over and – after listening to the crap she was spewing to the startled (elderly) driver who’s car she’d damaged – informed both parties that the whole incident was caught on the high definition camera. The victim came to my house, we watched the whole sorry episode (via SD card adapter) on my home TV and he was amazed (and delighted!) by the quality of the imagery. We made a copy of the (time & date stamped) footage, he won his case, was awarded costs and damages and she was charged with driving without due care and attention. No-one else bothered to stop and it might have been her lies against his factual statement of what happened. So, in this case, the camera helped someone else and not me. But another reason to have one. As it happened, after it was all over, the victim brought me a bottle of wine and some nice flowers for my wife (she wasn’t even present!) just for having the decency to stop and do the right thing, (whilst other drivers – some of whom no doubt witnessed to collision – just edged around him and drove away. Nice of them, eh?) . As others have pointed out too, a lot of drivers keep their distance and reconsider their driving manner when they see me on a grey 1000cc motorcycle wearing a high viz jacket and a white helmet with a camera attached and wired to the 12v outlet on the bike. I pass drivers looking at me & frantically pulling on their seatbelts and throwing their phones onto the passenger seat. I’m sure they breath a sigh of relief when they see the words Institute Of Advanced Motorcyclists in black letters on the back of my jacket, and not the word: ‘ POLICE’. I still hope I gave them pause for thought and a chance to reflect on their selfish stupidity. As you point out in your last sentence: driving pro-actively, in control, courteously, legally and with due care, will allow you to (hopefully) spot an incident forming around you before it happens.
Stay safe!
🙂

Member

Bravo, blackscorpion! If only all road users had your ethics and caring nature. Made me laugh the way you described those squirming motorists! Have a lovely day 😀

Member

Whether these cameras become popular could well depend on how they are marketed. If they are readily available at an affordable price, and become available as an option or standard on new cars, they will probably be widely accepted. If on the other hand our government or the EU decides that they are a good idea and should be phased in, there is likely to be very strong opposition.

I am undecided at present, but it will be interesting to see what happens.

Member

Whilst I agree in principle, I wonder why there would be ‘strong opposition’. Opposition from whom? Only, I suspect, from the plethora of dangerous and anti-social drivers who are afraid of being caught whilst driving aggressively, speeding and tailgating to intimidate the car in front to either speed up themselves or move out of the offender’s way? If people have nothing to hide, and drive with due care & attention, observing the Rules of the Road, they should have no reason to oppose any means of monitoring their own driving as well as the actions of others. Plus, if it brings down insurance premiums – which mine does – can that be a bad thing? For example, many people whine about speed cameras being there ‘just to generate money’ Well, don’t exceed the speed limit and it won’t cost you a penny. Simple really. Speed limits are just that – limits, NOT ‘targets’. I will drive progressively, within the set limit, in control, but without holding up other road users. The camera also monitors MY driving too! So, if I were to do something stupid, it would be captured on the camera and the camera could be seized as evidence – before a driver can format (delete) the SD card. the cameras are already affordable. they are a fraction of the cost of smartphones and tablets and people will shell out money for these items without a second thought, not to mention buying a car for £6000+ but will shy away from spending more than fifty quid on a dash cam!…

Member

I was thinking about the general opposition that happens whenever a change in legislation is proposed, but use of surveillance cameras has already attracted considerable opposition. If it is up to the car driver to choose if and when to use their cameras, that makes them more acceptable. The possibility of savings on car insurance premiums could be very attractive, particularly to younger drivers, who pay high premiums.

I agree with your comments about speed cameras, blackscorpion, and any way of making our roads safer certainly deserves consideration.

Member
NukeThemAll says:
31 August 2013

There are many apps available for smartphones which have the functionality of a dashcam. After all, you don’t need a great deal of card storage or internal memory – only the few minutes/seconds leading up to The Incident, at which point (provided you’re not injured) you then turn off the app and the data is saved. With modern very powerful smartphones, many people use the phone as a SatNav and thus it’s already in the ideal position (or thereabouts) to record traffic in front, and the phone has enough processing power to run both apps without problem. Perhaps Which? could do some testing of dashcam apps, as well as dashcams themselves.

Member

I like the idea of a sat nav and dashcam combined in your smartphone. You only have one device to carry with you and better still you will have a stealth camera that other road users will not know about. They will simply see it as a sat nav and of no threat to their continuing reckless driving.

Member
Truckman says:
25 October 2013

The main problem that i see in using a smartphone as a dashboard cam (i have a iphone 5) is the vision angle of these phones which is very limited compaired to a proper camera with say a 90 degree plus angle..i am considering buying one for my car + motorhome…any sug.welcomed..

Member

I have always believed that prevention is cheaper than cure, partly why I am a Neighbourhood Watch District Co-ordinator. From police intelligence, and increasing reports on road scams, I decided to look at car videos and eventually chose the Prestigio RoadRunner HD1 as an affordable option with good reviews on Amazon (currently at £55 inc. delivery).

It is simple to set up and install, taking little away from the driver’s view through the windscreen. The video is clear and stable in daylight, but only fairly so at night with street lights, and then with the colour distortion problems with Sodium vapour. Reg plates are readable if the car in front is at approx. parking distance, a bit dodgy at speed, but have not yet tried to find a way of expanding the video to full screen on my monitor. If you set it on “movement activation” it will work when parked with the engine turned off, recording someone moving in front of the car.

You can get other models that provide digital zoom for better close ups but you have to pay for what you get. Either way, it is worth using a 32GB SDHC card to allow plenty of capacity for long journeys and ongoing recording over a number of days (recommended to Komputer Bay Professional at £16 inc. again on Amazon).

I hope I never have to call on it as evidence but if I do, I think it will aid my side of the story, so long as I have the other vehicle’s reg number. If not, I will seek a service that can enlarge the images rather than be penalised by my insurer.

Member

Very good and sound advice. It is worth noting that you ideally need a CLASS 10 SD card, in addition to it being capable of holding 32Gb. But, true, you only get what you pay for…

Member

I have, twice, spent ages writing a response to this topic.
On each occasion I made a minor error when preparing to Post it!
On each occasion, instead of just telling me I’d made an error, and allowing me to correct it, ‘Which?’ deleted everything that I’d spent ages writing!!
THANK YOU WHICH?!!!

Member

Same thing happened to me! I forgot to add ‘name’ and ’email’ or to log in. I lost 15 minutes worth of careful typing and editing. Best to ‘highlight’ and ‘copy’ before posting these thing now, methinks!
Still, VERY annoying though, I agree!

Member

A little tip, Jay. Tick the “I accept the terms & conditions” box before you finalise your editing, then if you do press “Submit” prematurely your message will transmit – possibly containing the odd typo or missing a word – but the regular contributors don’t mind about that, it’s part of the enjoyment and they do it themselves all the time.

Member

I use the Firefox browser and an add-on called Lazarus to recover lost information in webforms and Forums. It works extremely well and I’m sure there is something similar for use with other browsers. I have used it from time to time after I lost my post in Which? Conversation.