Using a camera on your motorcycle helmet or a dash cam in your car can seem extreme until you consider how often accidents happen on roadways and how much gray area there typically is as far as evidence and proving fault.
The cause of a motorcycle accident can occur in a fraction of a second. The same is true of car accidents. There’s just no one way for someone behind the wheel to see all of the actions someone else is taking leading up to a crash. Even if you can see exactly what’s happening, it’s tough to remember and subsequently articulate these facts to law enforcement or in court.
The following are some things to know about dash and helmet cameras as you decide if using them is right for you.
A dash camera is, as the name indicates, something you can mount on your dashboard or inside of your windshield that will capture what’s going on around you. Dash cameras have long been used by long-haul truckers and law enforcement but are now becoming more popular with passenger and commercial vehicles.
Dash cameras record the sounds and images not only outside your car while you drive but also inside. Dash cams have advanced quite a bit in terms of technology and capabilities. They offer HD and 4K capabilities and different storage options. There are also plenty of options as far as how the dashcam actually records. For example, all will record on a continuous loop once they’re turned on, and almost all of them have impact detection that begins recording when triggered.
In some of the higher-end types of dashcams, there may be impact detection with a recording that’s buffered, so you can the time for a few seconds both before and after an impact.
High-end dashcams may also have parking modes that will include motion detectors that start recording when they’re turned off. The most expensive types of dashcams have GPS sensors, which will then track things like speed, time, and location.
The Pros and Cons of Dashcams
In the United States, insurers don’t currently offer a particular dashboard camera discount, but you can indirectly save on the cost of your premiums.
Going back to what was mentioned above, it’s not always entirely clear who caused an accident. Plus, we all know that people aren’t always honest, either. When there’s video footage of an accident, it can help avoid any contradictions in stories. Law enforcement and your insurer can clearly see who’s at fault in an accident if one occurs. These cameras can also speed up your insurance claim in some cases.
When you use a dashcam, you’re giving yourself the benefit of first-hand evidence.
You can also use your evidence to challenge something like a parking or traffic violation, although state laws do vary on what can be used as evidence.
The footage on your dashcam could become helpful if you witness something happening with other drivers. As an example, if there’s a fender bender that happens right in front of you and the driver who’s responsible flees the scene, you may have something on your footage.
If you’re part of a situation involving road rage, your camera might capture identifying characteristics of the driver or their license plate.
When you use a dashcam, it can encourage safer behavior. You’ll know that someone is watching you, even if that someone is you. Some parents also opt to use dashcams when they have teen drivers at home.
If you have a dashcam when your car is parked, you can get footage if someone tries to break into your car. If someone sees that you have a camera, it might also be a deterrent. Car break-ins have been a big issue in a lot of cities in the past few years, so having a camera in your vehicle when you aren’t in it could offer some peace of mind.
So what about the downsides?
First, you’re not going to automatically lower your insurance premium. You also have to consider that dashcam video, if available, may be used as evidence if you’re in an accident. You may not even realize you’re at fault or think you are, but your video recording could show otherwise.
There’s no guarantee what you record is even going to be admissible in a court situation.
What About a Camera on Your Motorcycle Helmet?
If you ride a bike or motorcycle, it’s a good idea to put a camera on your helmet. When you have a helmet camera, it can capture the action of several vehicles simultaneously, and as with a dashcam, whatever is being gathered is objective and unbiased. The events that your camera captures don’t change over time.
Some motorcycle and bike riders have even started wearing cameras mounted on their helmets to make posts for social media.
Considerations Before Buying a Camera
Some of the factors that you should think about before buying a dashcam or helmet cam can include:
- Cost: These cameras can cost anywhere from $30 to upwards of $500 or more. The average dashcam is usually between $100 and $400. On the lower end, features you might find include a built-in display, automatic loop recording, and auto-saving footage. If you splurge on a more expensive camera, features might include 4K ultra, built-in GPS, additional record modes like slow motion, and it may also be able to let you cover multiple angles.
- Resolution: A big consideration as you’re choosing a dash or helmet cam is resolution. The resolution is expressed as the vertical pixels in an image. If your camera is 1080p, then there are 1,080 vertical pixels. More pixels are generally better.
- Field of view: If your camera has a wider field of view, it’s going to be able to “see” more at any given time. This can, at the same time, negatively affect image quality because the pixels are more spaced out from one another.
These are just a few of the features and factors you might consider before buying a camera, which is an option that has pros that tend to generally outweigh any cons.
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