Consumer Reports: Buying and Using a Dashcam

More and more people are using dashcams in their vehicles as a way to protect themselves from blame in an accident or from a getting a ticket they don’t deserve. Barry Levy has today’s Consumer Report with some advice on why you might want to look into getting one for yourself or a family member.

There are dashcam videos all over the internet showing everything from…well, let me show you…showing everything from accidents to cases of road rage. Dashcams started out as a fun way to document a road trip in a vehicle or on a motorcycle but quickly began being used in court to protect drivers in all sort of situations. And, here’s what you should consider before you buy one...oh, that was bad one.

Imagine accidentally hitting a pedestrian who suddenly ran in front of your moving car when you had the right of way - Or being rammed by another vehicle - Or being pulled over by a policeman for no apparent reason. You know you did nothing wrong, but how do you prove it?  Well, now you can.

“A dash cam can provide evidence and be used by an insurance company to prove that you weren’t liable - that the other person was at fault,” Michelle Naranjo/Consumer Reports.

In fact most insurance companies will accept dash cam footage from their policyholders in the case of an accident to assist in a claim. These gadgets are also useful in disputes about racial profiling by police, and can come in handy if your car is damaged while parked. And they’re legal - As long as you record what’s going on outside the car on public roads. But inside in some states is another matter.

“If someone gets in your car -  because of privacy laws - it’s important that you inform them that they’re also being recorded because it really varies from state to state whether that’s legal or not,” Michelle Naranjo/Consumer Reports.

So what should you look for in a dash cam? Consumer Reports compiled a list of essential features you’ll need. Providing detailed images is key, so get a high-definition cam with a resolution of at least 1080p. Also important - low light capability for when it’s dark outside. Get one with ample storage too - at least 32 gig - to preserve footage. And make sure it comes with long loop times - 5 minute files are best - so you don’t record over essential footage.
Dash cams can give you peace of mind, but don’t forget - your own footage can also be used against you.

Ohhhh, this doesn’t look good! It’s important to note that there is generally no legal obligation to save your dash cam footage. But, destroying it after an incident could lead to legal complications in the case of a criminal investigation or civil action. Also some states, like Texas, have laws prohibiting using a front windshield mount like this one, for electronic devices. So, mount it to the dash and you should be good to go.

*States in which electronic front windshield mounts are illegal: AL, AK, CT, DE, DC, GA, ID, KS, KY, LA, MT, NE, NJ, NM, ND, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TX, VT, WA, WV, WI

*States which restrict windshield mounting location: AZ, CA, HI, IN, MD, OH, NV, UT

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