/ 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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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.

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!

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 🙂

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.

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.

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

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.!

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?!!

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?

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.

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:

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.

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

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.

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’…

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

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.

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!

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 😀

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.

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!…

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.

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.

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.

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..

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.

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…

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!!

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!

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.

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.

Prepare your (long) response using a text editor (such as Word) – and then copy and paste into the form. That helps you with the typos before you post.

Please can we have a Conversation about Which Conversation? That might help avoid topics going off-topic each time someone gets frustrated or has a good idea.

Hello Jay, sorry about the problems you’ve been having. Please don’t worry about typos or mistakes in your comments. You can always issue a correction – and everyone’s friendly here (if they’re not, just report them to us).

Google Chrome has a nice Dictionary add-on which underlines your spelling mistakes as you type your comment.

Your comment can often be retained if you press the back button. Just scroll down to find the comment box and hopefully your intact text.

If you want to let us know of any website problems, please use our contact us form: https://conversation.which.co.uk/contact-us/

Thanks Blackscorpion for taking the trouble to write long and informative comments. Ever since the news reports on Soviet cars filming the asteroids etc., I’ve wondered about those webcams. I would like an article in Which? comparing all on the market in the UK and also those we might be able to buy, on Ebay, from the Far East (not from America as the postage is too high). The Eastern ones would have to be in the lower price bracket otherwise we’d be open to scams. Who makes the Russian ones? They have obviously had more years to test them than we have. Perhaps Which? could contact our Embassy in Moscow to see which cameras the staff use in their cars. Also perhaps our police could be helpful in saying which brands of cameras have produced the best pictures leading to convictions in court. Any cops reading this who would like to comment? Which brand/type of camera do they use for the footage on late night TV dangerous driving shows? Any help would be great so as not to make a mistake or part with too much money. (I’m a pensioner and also a member of the Guild of Experienced Motorists). Safety is paramount but so is not having to cope with the trauma of accidents and insurance claims. Many thanks to all contributors.

I have recently purchased a dash cam from policewitness as they also include membership to their site and you can send any incidents you capture to them for them to liaise with the police on your behalf. I know they have had success with drivers banned, points given, warnings etc and I am so far very pleased with Roadhawk HD, I have captured a driver going through a red light (very red!) which I have sent to policewitness and it has been sent to the local police, I have already had a call from an officer about the incident, so it’s worth it so far, I have peace of mind being protected against all these scams.

I would really like a camera at the back of my car, with a sensor which senses speed, distance and available light, and which flashes a warning message to the vehicle behind when it comes too close. I’ve often though that, assuming the technology is affordable, this would be an excellent way of training drivers to judge distances better.

If the driver behind persists in staying too close, after several seconds the camera could take a photo and send it to the police. When a driver’s photo has been taken in this way a certain number of times, the driver could be called in and made to undergo further training.

It is clear from yesterday’s horrific multi-car pile-up that many people desperately need this training.

They would love this idea in France, Esther. They tend to drive as if their front bumper is super-glued to your back bumper, and can’t understand what one is trying to indicate by clicking the warning flashers on.

And I speak as one with a French wife (for 46 years & counting) and an attendant, widely spread family, who we visit regularly, as well as having survived 10 years living in the beautiful département of the Tarn.

But as French law does not allow use of radar & laser speed detectors in vehicles, I don’t think dash cams would be that welcomed by the authorities.

The pile up yesterday was simply because the majority of drivers are stupid, selfish idiots who are obsessed with driving as quickly as possible and are impatient bullies. Many aren’t even aware of their actions. They drive far too fast, dangerously close to the car in front, often in an attempt to ‘bully’ the car in front into either speeding up or moving aside to allow the moron to then accelerate hard towards the rear of their next victim and the pattern repeats itself. Drivers are ignorant of the fact that, at 70mph, you need 96 METRES to safely stop. On a dry road, in a straight line. How often do you see imbeciles driving at 70mph a mere 4 metres from the car in front? (Usually in an Audi). And in dense for, they continue this stupidity, and with no headlights on! I have little sympathy for the drivers involved in yesterday’s incident. It was ALL due to driver error. And how many will be now making (false) “whiplash” claims??? It’s high time for mandatory dash cams… And black box recorders. And prosecute ALL the drivers involved, for driving without due care and attention.

considering buying one in car camera myself after one or two near miss idiots, and have mailed Which to see if they will check them out, but no reply so far after about 10 days, my insurance co does not discount if one is fitted, so I am looking to compare very shortly, pity Which don’t offer a best buy on in car cameras, but now…..which one to go for??

I like the idea of a camera – perhaps Which? could do a review of available models? But more to help in the event of an accident, or prosecution, when you would at least have evidence to decide your fate. it would be good if they also recorded your speed.

I’m not sure how they would help with some scams though. Someone stopping quickly in front of you is not to blame when you run into the back of them – you should not be driving so close is the official view, I believe, even though on our crowded roads this is not always realistic. Being flashed does not give you any rights apparently; Honest John keeps reminding drivers of this. However I take issue with that; in general, helping drivers into traffic or to cross at a turning can often only be done by flashing your lights. Just have to be wary I suppose.

Ingrid says:
15 September 2013

I too would like Which to do a review on Car Cameras. I aim to buy one but before I do I really would appreciate independant help to choose the right one for me. So come on “Which” do the right thing and look into this.

Mr P says:
1 October 2013

The best advice I’ve had was from the reviews on Techmoan dot com. I plumped for the Mobius do-it-all camera. It’s permenantly installed behind my rear view mirror as it’s tiny in size. It offers great 1080p images at 30 frames per second and with the windscreen mount, extension cable came to around £70. It does make you a better driver as you’re looking out for things. I firmly believe that in years to come these will either be on the manufacturers option lists or standard fit.

delighted at the comprehensive cover of the various cameras etc on Techmoan site,it has helped me decide which one, many thanks Mr p,

Mike Edwards says:
7 October 2013

I ride my bike regularly and there are instances where drivers cut very close and it’s usually 4x4s, BMWs, white/ delivery vans typically. I therefore use a headcam which attaches to my helmet or handlebars to give evidence of threatening driving such as this. We need a Government backed plan to give cyclists space and allow them to negotiate the numerous potholes and defects in the public highway. Unfortunately there are a percentage of drivers who seem antagonistic towards cyclists, but cyclist need to respect the Highway Code and ride responsibly.

John says:
11 October 2013

Two points to ponder;

1 – Is dashcam evidence admissible in court? (someone above said that the camera never lies, but that is no doubt legally contestable). The first point of course is to use an insurance company that accepts them (and as someone else said, gives a discount to users)

2 – @blackscorpion – If someone involved in an accident for some reason decides to delete the data from the camera’s storage medium, they could be charged with destroying evidence, AIUI a criminal offence.

Meanwhile I’ll stay on the track of the driver who hooted repeatedly at my learner son who made a slightly hesitant start from some traffic lights. What planet are these people on??

What I really want is a Sat Nav/Dash Cam combined unit with the facility to view a Bluetooth reversing camera built in. I intend to replace my current Sat Nav this year. I’m sure many other people would like such a unit also.
Manufactures over to you..