When a meteor tore through Russian skies this year, the device that captured the sensational event was a car dashcam. These devices are small cameras attached to a windscreen that record what happens while you drive. They seem ubiquitous in Russia, and to understand why go to YouTube and have a look at some of the footage.
The incidents recorded range from the bizarre to the hilarious to the tragic. They are enough to convince you a dashcam is essential for driving in Russia — if you’re game to drive there at all. The devices are not common in Australia, but local distributors have been astonished by the demand for dashcams, set to have a massive impact on our insurance premiums and the way we drive.
The main idea is to record events in a way that can establish the facts in an accident where fault is in dispute. They can also prevent a common overseas scam that involves bumper-to-bumper traffic on a highway. As your lane comes to a halt, the car in front reverses into you. It’s a rear-ender that has to be your fault — unless you’ve got a dashcam.
Typically, the units are designed to record continuously and, when their data card is full, start overwriting. Or they can be switched on if a driver notices something problematic. Erratic driving or road rage, perhaps.
High-definition and a wide-angle lens gather enough detail to read licence plates and most will work to a greater or lesser degree at night. Some have multiple cameras, some infrared capability. Many have motion sensors that automatically retain the portion before and after the car has been nudged. Adding GPS means it can accurately locate an incident and the speed your car is travelling.
They can keep running while a car is parked. Features such as these have established dashcams as a separate niche from action-recording devices typified by GoPro cameras. Besides Russia, other nations have taken to them in a big way and dozens of units are available, most coming from Taiwan, Korea and China.
In Australia, dashcams are a fairly new phenomenon, but they are rapidly becoming popular. Navman, known for its satellite navigation units, began offering them a year ago and has been surprised by the demand. Navman country director Wendy Hammond says about 100,000 will be purchased this year, with the company cornering about 30 per cent of demand for units priced at more than $100. She expects total sales to double next year. “We’re shocked by how many people are buying them,” Hammond says. For the full story, you can read it from here.
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