Technology

Should you buy a dash cam?


An everyday trip to the local shops can turn into a disaster if you’re involved in an accident.  Anyone in New Zealand with a little bit of money can get behind the wheel of a vehicle, and even worse - an uninsured one.

We had a quick search online to see how many videos we could find by searching for ‘dash cam accidents’ and found an astonishing 392,000 clips.

If you find yourself disputing an incident, the issue of who’s at fault can become very tricky to determine, especially when there are no witnesses. Much of this hassle can be avoided with a decent dash cam.

With so many dash cam models on the market it can be hard to choose the right one. Here are a few essentials you should look out for.

Quality

Keep an eye out for its image recording ability as this affects the level of detail in the videos. Some models are higher quality than others, but most good dash cams will record at around 1080p or above. This provides high quality images during the day and reasonable quality images at night.

Also, be aware of a dash cam’s loop recording ability. This is where the camera overwrites the oldest data to allow continuous recording. This is an essential feature as it ensures that the camera continues to record even when its storage has reached maximum capacity.

Impact sensors

A G sensor is another innovation to look out for. If you slam on your brakes to avoid a collision, or if you’re hit by another vehicle, the G sensor detects these situations and automatically stores data separately in a protected part of the camera’s memory to ensure the data cannot be overwritten. While most good quality dash cams have a G sensor incorporated, some cheaper units come with a manual button in its absence.

Rear Impact Protection

Some systems now incorporate both front and rear cameras to give more coverage - perfect for those nose-to-tail accidents. These systems aren’t dramatically more expensive either as the hardware is already in place.

Parking Protection

Have you ever returned to your car only to find it has been damaged and the person hasn’t left a note? 

Many dash cams incorporate a parking mode which means it continues to record even after the vehicle’s engine has been turned off. Choosing a unit with a good battery backup will maximise this feature.

Details

Another clever feature to look for is a date and time stamp function. This can be very useful after an incident has happened, as insurance companies often ask for such information and these details are easily forgotten when you’re in the midst of a panic situation. Some pricier models will also have a GPS function alongside the date and time stamp.

What’s on the market?

Garmin 55 Dash Cam – $230-$270

This model features 1440p video quality, with a 122-degree viewing angle.  It has forward collision warning which alerts the driver if you are too close to the car ahead, as well as lane departure warning.  Its built-in Wi-Fi lets you wirelessly sync videos to your compatible smartphone using a free mobile app.

Navman MiVue800 Duel Dash Cam - $285 - $299

Sometimes accidents happen from behind, and for this reason the MiVUE800 is equipped with Dual Cameras which can both record simultaneously in 1080p Full HD.

It’s also equipped with GPS tracking and headlight and driver fatigue warning alerts, which are great added safety systems to help avoid a crash altogether.

Dash cams are relatively easy to fit as most come with a suction cup or can be clipped 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, and modern cameras are now also including enhanced protective safety features which are helping to avoid accidents in the first place.

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