Tongson: Dash Cam Popularity Continues to Grow

By Sean Tongson

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Photo by Nate Anderson

Today’s society is highlighted with many of the latest technological gadgets and devices. Often times, these “toys” are imperative to the enrichment and enhancement of everyday lives, as these modern-day technologies are used to aid with many forms of entertainment and convenience, or augmenting important necessities that are used and depended on daily, such as safety and security.  One of these devices which has seen an increase in popularity is the dashboard camera, or “dashcam”.

Long associated historically with use by police officers for vehicle chases and traffic stops, and later popularized by TV shows such as World’s Wildest Police Videos, dashcams are cameras mounted on a vehicle’s dashboard or windshield that continuously records detailed views and sounds while on the road.

“They can most certainly help out in cases of hit-and-runs and traffic stops by cops,” said former Antioch resident Adam Williams. “I would highly recommend one if you are especially prone to accidents, live in a big city where parking can be a challenge, and for protection and evidence if you ever need to use the footage.”

For most, the installation and use of dashcams are primarily for insurance purposes; to prevent any distortion of facts in the event of an accident, road rage incident, or event where truths may be compromised. Additionally, due to the nature of potentially being recorded at all times, dashcams may directly or indirectly promote and encourage good behavior by curtailing misconduct with the knowledge of possibly being on camera at any given time, and may catch crimes taking place nearby a road or parking lot.

“Nothing beats video evidence,” said Antioch resident Chris Cosper. “There are numerous examples of ‘he said, she said’ throughout society. The dashcam provides both peace of mind and does not allow someone to lie about what happened. Even the best of us tend to psychologically fill in gaps in memory or observation with a positive slant in our favor.”

According to Brentwood Police Lieutenant Walter O’Grodnick, the Brentwood Police Department have used dashcams in their vehicles for over a decade.

“We find it to be very effective for officer safety, transparency, identifying training needs, and serving as supporting evidence in criminal matters,” said O’Grodnick. “Our in-car systems monitor speed, GPS, braking, and when emergency lighting equipment is activated.”

While police have been using dashcams for years, statistics show that dashcam popularity amongst the general public is on the rise.

According to an article in USA Today, dashcam wholesale shipments are expected to increase to 285,000 this year, up 20% from last year. In addition to security features and providing peace of mind to drivers, dashcams are also said to be easy to set up and use; requiring only for them to be mounted to a windshield or dashboard, plugging them into a vehicle’s power adapter, and inserting an SD card into the camera.

“They have become increasingly popular because they are affordable, compact, generally reliable, and offer a sense of security, especially if a driver becomes involved in a collision,” added O’Grodnick. “I think most companies use them to protect their company, employees, and use footage to correct questionable driving behaviors.”

For motorcycle riders and the added potential for danger that comes with it, some riders often times use helmet cameras for some of the same reasons a motorist would use a dashcam, for insurance and need for evidence should an accident occur.

“From my point of view, it is a very important asset for road safety,” said motorcyclist Brandon Mayfield. “It comes in handy when pulled over for road safety violations such as speeding, when serving to prove your innocence, and also helpful when other incidents occur such as accidents or road rage.”

By looking online, dashcams come in a variety of different types, sizes, and forms, including one-channel cameras, two-channel cameras, and four-channel cameras.

Some dashcams offer special features such as wide-viewing angles, global positioning system (GPS), motion detection, time stamps, gravity sensors, and high definition (HD) video. Dashcams generally range from $100 to $400, although free mobile apps are also available for consumers to use their smartphones as dashcams as well. Paid apps are also available for “premium” features, such as HD video to accentuate the recording experience.

While dashcams serve an important purpose for insurance and a degree of protection, people are known to use dashcams for other reasons as well, by way of hoping to capture footage that can be shared online with the hope of attracting views, shares, and likes on social media, or for hobbyists, road trippers, or entertainment purposes.

“All my cars have one,” said Pittsburg resident Jill Mendoza. “We use it mainly for insurance purposes, but sometimes I use the footage for road trip videos.”

Antioch resident Ken Quach offering a different take, exclaimed, “Fifteen minutes of fame!” “Fifteen minutes or thirty minutes of fame, so they can upload it to YouTube. They want to be there to be able to capture something in the moment.”

In spite of their growing popularity and convenience, O’Grodnick advised that dashcams could be a potential distraction to drivers, and for drivers to always use them with caution whenever a vehicle is in motion.

“Any dash mounted device can be a distraction and even more dangerous if manipulated while driving,” said O’Grodnick. “Those who choose to use one are reminded to exercise good judgment for their own safety and the overall safety of the motoring public.”

Furthermore, legislative information on the code section for equipment for vehicles can be found at the following link: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=VEH&sectionNum=26708

Here are some options via Amazon under $100.





 


Sean Tongson, writer, is a resident of East Contra Costa County, a proud husband and father, and enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking, road tripping, and traveling.

An avid bay area sports fan, Sean’s favorite teams include the 49ers, Giants, Sharks, and Warriors.


 


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1 COMMENT

  1. Loads of fairly well-made, cheap little cameras are available. You could clip one on and wear it walking the dog, shopping, etc. Hard to spot if you’re not watching for it. This has actually come to be a great idea in some areas. If nothing happens, just take it off at home and forget it. If something does happen to you or someone else, you can provide evidence. The very small, dark ones suitable for attaching to drones work for a lot of applications. Not just dash-cam or nanny-cam use.

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