What is a Dash Cam, and Do I need one?

There are lots of options for adding gadgets to your vehicle. Home of these are for fun, some are to enhance some aspect or your ride and some are for safety. Dashcams are the most prominent of these devices and more and more we are seeing them on vehicles across America. They are easy to use and provide vital proof in a variety of situations. You’ve probably come across mention of Dashcams in the news as of late and have asked yourself ‘Should I get one?’

In short; YES.

What is a Dashcam?

A Dashcam (or dash camera) is a small video camera installed in your car, usually attached to the top of your windshield near your rear-view mirror. They can be placed in a variety of places, and despite the terms we usually use for them “dash cam” they are rarely attached to the actual dashboard. Sometimes we can use apps on our phones that try to function as a dash-cam and some have taken impressive video on the road using ‘sport action cameras’ but none of these options have the features required to take reliable and constant video while on the road or when your vehicle is parked.

Important features Dashcams have that other devices do not:

-Run on your vehicles 12v power

-Activates recording when your turn your car on

-Automatically overwrites old data

-Records to a memory card and allows you to save video to your computer

As most of us have seen via viral videos, these cameras are ubiquitous in Russia where video is often the only way to prove your word in court when the fault of an accident is important.

We’ve put together an ongoing series of articles discussing the many reasons owning a dashcam is necessary. Read about Dashcams and accidents here:

Reasons for having a Dashcam part 1: Accidents while Driving

Dashcams, how do they work?

Dashcams are usually very easy to use.

When you install it, you usually have the option to wire the device directly into your car’s 12v electoral system or to simply plug it into your vehicle’s 12v power socket. They often have a function that prevents it from draining your battery while your vehicle is not on, and will often have the ability to record during this time and act as a security camera while you are parked.

To read about the importance of having a dashcam in your parked car, Read This.

Reasons for having a Dashcam part 2: Accidents while parked

Most dashcams will automatically power on and record as soon as you turn the key and start your vehicle, and many have separate modes for driving and parking. For instance they may record constant video while driving and switch to a slower framerate that takes a photo once every few seconds like many security cameras do, or they may be set to only record when motion is detected in parking mode.

While the options vary, once you set it up once, you don’t have to think about it.

To read about how a dashcam protects you from insurance fraud, read this.

Reasons for having a Dashcam part 3: Insurance Fraud


Are Dashcams always legal?

Dashcam legality is a complicated subject, so it’s always a good idea to check into the specific laws and regulations in your jurisdiction before installing one. They are illegal in some countries, legal in others, and video from dashcams can actually be used in court in many cases.

In addition to whether or not dash cameras are specifically legal or illegal in your area, it’s also important to consider privacy concerns. Although dashcams may not be specifically illegal in your jurisdiction, using one may break privacy laws, which makes it even more important to do your homework before you install one.

Read about drivers showing their driving skills here

Reasons for having a Dashcam part 4: Showing your skills


Alternatives to dashcams

Although purpose-built dashcams are the most convenient, reliable devices for this particular type of usage, it may seem like there are other devices that can do the job. The truth is dashcams are the only real option for being used as a dashcam. Sport-action cameras may be mountable but they have no functionality to loop record or to be used as a security camera. There are many phone apps that present themselves as dashcam apps but this is possibly the worst idea of them all. You'd use up your phones limited memory and battery, you can't leave it in your car while parked and if you want to use your phone as a phone you can't have it recording. Phone apps as dashcams are possibly the worst idea possible in terms of safety.

Read about documenting your travels with a dashcam here:

Reasons for having a Dashcam part 5: Documenting trips


Final thoughts

After some thought, most of us who consider getting a dashcam choose to go ahead and get one. They are such an important tool to have and capture everything from terrible accidents to hilarious moments.

Read about the strange and unique moments caught on camera here:

Reasons for having a Dashcam part 6: Recording the unexpected

Dashcams are such a vital thing to have that many high end cars come with them built-in. But you don't need to hold out for a luxury vehicle just to protect yourself. Fortunately there are many reliable and affordable options available to everyone. Take the time to choose one for yourself and get out there on the road. Be sure to share your wildest videos with us!


Check out Zetronix's line of Dashcams here:

Dashcams from Zetronix