Dashcams

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TECHNOLOGY

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Dashcams can provide the key evidence in a vehicle accident or fraud claim.

According to Transport Canada, automobile collisions in 2013 resulted in 165,306 personal injuries, of which 10,315 were serious and 1,923 were fatal. These statistics do not take into account the thousands of fender-benders that are not included in Transport Canada’s data. According to the Allstate 2015 Safe Driving Study, rear end collisions accounted for 25% of all accidents while turning at intersections was a close second at nearly 24%. Interestingly, almost 14% of reported accidents involved a parked vehicle.

Owner-managers have need to be concerned about accidents in company-driven vehicles. It may be worth considering outfitting your company-owned vehicles with an onboard camera, better known as simply a dashcam. Typically, a dashcam is used to continuously record video through the windshield. Having a dashboard camera in your vehicles could provide evidence regarding an accident which may help to mitigate legal or settlement costs, as well as to provide detail to establish the driver’s responsibility.

Must-Have Features

Get the best video resolution you can afford; for better results consider models that record in at least 1080p High Definition (1920 x 1080 pixels); additionally, quality night recording capability is a must.

The viewing angle (i.e., how much of the world the camera can see) is an important consideration. A wide-angle lens such as 160-degrees may capture more in the frame but may produce a more distorted image; narrower lenses are more likely to pick up sharper details.

Loop recording automatically overwrites the oldest footage.

Almost all dashcams should have loop recording that automatically overwrites the oldest recording when the storage card becomes full. Choose a dashcam with a G-sensor. The G-sensor automatically indicates when the vehicle is involved in a collision or if there is a need for emergency braking. This specific footage will not be deleted by the loop recording. Given the number of claims involving a parked vehicle, a motion detector feature may prove handy. Upper-tier dashcams should incorporate a buffered parking mode that continuously records what is happening while the vehicle is parked but does not record to memory unless stimulated by the G-force sensor or by the visual motion detector program.

Auto start should be standard. Every time the vehicle is started the dashcam should start recording automatically so that the driver does not have to remember to turn the device on. On the flip side is the need for automatic shut off to avoid draining the vehicle’s battery.

Battery drain is a problem with some dashcam models because they run off the vehicle’s power. Consider models that either contain their own battery for when the car is off, or can automatically shut off when they detect the vehicle’s battery is getting too low to start the engine.

You may wish to consider a unit with a GPS option. Having GPS support most likely does not include any navigation assistance, but it can record the exact speed and position of the vehicle. Some units have the GPS built in and others can connect to an existing GPS device to receive that data.

Date and time stamp are a must. That said make sure the date and time are set up properly. Check the settings occasionally and recalibrate as necessary.

Forward-looking cameras are great, except that when one considers that 25% of accidents happen from behind, it makes sense to consider a Dual Channel model: in addition to the forward-facing camera, some units include a second camera that can be used to look through the rear-view mirror or be mounted in the rear-window.

In that dashcams are mounted at the top and near the centre of the windshield ensure that the power cord is long enough to permit concealment in the vehicle’s window seals whether or not the device is plugged into the dash power source or directly mounted to the vehicle power source.

Memory is extremely important. The more memory available, the longer the camera can run without having to over-write older video. Some units may include a smaller memory card than the maximum they can support. Because memory cards are relatively inexpensive, you may wish to consider maxing out the memory. Do not settle for less than a 64 GB SD card; 128 GB would be even better.

WiFi ranges from a useful feature to an absolute must, depending on the model. Some models include a built-in LCD screen to view and replay recordings right on the device. However, for models that do not include a screen, you may be able to view and download videos from the dashcam to a smartphone or tablet using a WiFi connection. WiFi also allows an easy way to retrieve videos from the dashcam without having to remove the physical memory card.

Check Provincial Regulations

It should be noted that at least one manufacturer combines a radar-detector product with dashcams, which can help users share information on radar and red light cameras, as well as other traffic issues. Before purchasing these devices, check with your province as to whether the units are legal. Further, if vehicles will cross provincial boundaries it would be prudent to determine which provinces discourage or have outlawed radar detectors; the penalties may range from confiscation of the device to stiff fines.

Expensive But Worth It

Inexpensive dashcams can be found for under $100; however, feature-rich models will likely cost about $400-500 per vehicle. Having a recording from a high-end dashcam can go a long way to providing evidence in the event of an accident or a fraudulent insurance claim. As well, they will provide information to monitor employees’ driving habits and check the routes being driven.

Can your business afford to be without a dashcam?

 

Disclaimer

The information provided on this page is intended to provide general information. The information does not take into account your personal situation and is not intended to be used without consultation from accounting and financial professionals. Allan Madan and Madan Chartered Accountant will not be held liable for any problems that arise from the usage of the information provided on this page.

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