A simple trip to the local shops can turn into an insurance and liability nightmare. Unlike countries where insurance is mandatory, anyone in New Zealand with a little bit of money can get behind the wheel of a dicey uninsured vehicle. It only takes a quick search on YouTube to see all the crazy driving and unbelievable things caught on camera.
If you find yourself disputing an incident with an uninsured driver, they will often pull out every excuse under the sun to avoid liability. Even if they are clearly at fault, you may find yourself in a ‘he said she said’ game, with no witnesses to support either side. It’s one word against another, but much of this hassle can be avoided with a decent dash cam.
So with so many dash cams on the market, you might find yourself asking “what makes this different to that?”
Keep an eye out for its image recording ability as this will affect the quality of the videos that are caught on camera. Some models are higher quality than others but most good dash cams will record at 1080p or above, providing high quality images during the day and reasonable quality images at night. While the possibility of an accident is increased during the night, it can still happen at any time of the day, so a decent dash cam will always have you covered.
Also, be aware of a dash cams loop recording ability. This is where the camera overwrites the oldest data to allow continuous recording. This is an essential as it ensures that the camera continues to record even when its storage has reached maximum capacity.
A G sensor is another innovation to look out for. If you slam on your brakes to avoid a collision or you’re hit by another vehicle, the G sensor detects these situations and automatically stores data, recording that section of video. This system will protect this data separately and safely on the memory to ensure the data cannot be overwritten. While most good quality dash cams have a G sensor, some cheaper units come with a manual button in its absence.
Some systems now incorporate both front and rear cameras to give more coverage - perfect for those popular nose to tail accidents. These systems aren’t dramatically more expensive either as the hardware is already in place.
Have you ever returned to you car only to find your bumper lying on the ground and with no note to be found?
Many dash cams incorporate a parking mode allowing a camera to continue to record even after the vehicle’s engine has been turned off. If this sounds like a bit of you, choose a unit with a good battery backup system to help maximise this feature. Perfect if you’re Evan Hansimikali from Sydney who recently found his Audi being keyed on a regular basis. Evan installed a dash cam to catch the culprit who appeared to have no apparent motive for the vandalism… The culprit has since handed themselves into the police after being caught red handed.
Another crafty feature to look for is a date and time stamp function on dash cams. This can be very useful after a crash has happened as insurance companies often ask for such information which can be easy to overlook when your in the midst of an accident. Some pricier models will also have a GPS function alongside the date and time stamp - not really an essential feature unless you really want to go all out.
What’s on the market?
Navman MiVue700 Dash Cam - $100 - $130
If you need a simple but quality dash cam, this model will do the trick. The MiVue captures clear video with a HD 1080p camera and 2” screen. In an accident it will record the direction of impact with a 3-Axis G-Shock sensor providing better detail of how a collision occurred.
Garmin 55 Dash Cam – $270
This camera features helpful driver awareness warnings to help encourage safer driving. It has forward collision warning which alerts if you drive too closely to the car ahead as well as lane departure warning. With built-in Wi-Fi, you can also wirelessly sync videos to your compatible smartphone. It even has built-in red light and speed camera data alert you when red light cameras or speed cameras are near.
Dash cams are relatively easy to fit as most come with a suction cup or can clip onto your rear vision mirror. They can be fitted in minutes and are connected to the vehicle via the 12V accessory socket or USB power supply.
Dash cams are growing in popularity amongst Kiwi drivers as they become more affordable. Catch everything on camera, and never worry about who’s at fault ever again.