Australia’s crash safety watchdog wants your dash cam footage
Got a dash cam in your car? ANCAP wants your footage for a new TV commercial.
Once the domain of YouTube clips and tabloid TV news, dash cam footage of drivers behaving badly is now being employed by Australia’s crash safety watchdog to help in the fight to increase safety on our roads.
The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP), is calling on motorists with dash cams to contribute footage of common crash scenarios including single-vehicle run-off-road crashes and near misses involving pedestrians for a new national ad campaign due to air later this year.
“By involving the community in the development of the campaign, we’re not only giving them the opportunity to be part of the road-safety solution, we’re generating early thought and discussion around the function, benefits and availability of these now common and affordable technologies,” says ANCAP communications director Rhianne Robson.
While not yet as ubiquitous as Bluetooth connectivity or reversing cameras, dashboard-mounted cameras or dash cams are becoming more and more popular with Australian motorists – with some estimates putting the number of vehicles fitted with the devices as high as one in five.
Dash cams record footage of the road ahead – or behind – as you drive. Many motorists install them as an extra precaution in case of a crash – dash cam footage can help prove who was at fault for insurance purposes. But the devices can also be useful for capturing poor behaviour on the road such as road rage or reckless driving, which can then be passed on to authorities.
The dashcamowners.com.au website has more than 500,000 followers and publishes hundreds of contributed clips of crashes and near misses each month.
There are several types of dash cams on the market, to suit differing needs. ‘Single channel’ dash cams face and record one direction and are usually used to film out the front windscreen. ‘Dual channel’ devices record the front and the rear view, while ‘in-car’ cameras face inward to provide an internal view of the car, the driver and passengers. These are commonly used in taxis and ride-share cars.
Dash-cam footage is recorded to removable memory cards – usually Micro SD cards – that range in size. A 35GB card recording at 1080P HD will provide approximately four or five hours, but larger cards (up to 512GB) will take more footage. The cameras record in blocks of one, three or five minutes in length, and once the memory card is full, the dash cam automatically deletes the oldest video and starts again from the beginning.
Prices range from $50 to $500 depending on the brand and features. Some cams have wifi, LCD screens, voice activation or GPS, and some of the pricier models have extras such as lane-departure warning, driver-fatigue monitoring or tyre-pressure monitoring systems.
A poorly secured dashcam might become a projectile in an accident. People should also be aware of where they are mounted with respect to airbag deployment.
Some well-known GPS brands such as Navman and Garmin moved into the dash cam business a few years back, but other brands such as Blackvue, Street Guardian, Uniden, Kapture and Guardtrak are popular and highly regarded by experts.
It pays to do your research before buying as you may not need the features on some of the higher-end offerings. However, there are reports of glitches with some of the cheaper models. As well as price, you should consider the size of the camera, video quality, the lens, whether it has smartphone compatibility, and memory and storage. You can also buy a dash-cam battery with a charging pack if you want to record while the vehicle is parked.
RACV senior vehicle engineer Nick Platt warns that while dash cams can be a useful tool to monitor road-user behaviour, they need to be properly installed to ensure there’s no compromise in safety or driver visibility.
“A poorly secured dash cam might become a projectile in an accident. People should also be aware of where they are mounted with respect to airbag deployment.”
Nick says if a dash cam is installed at the top of a windscreen, the cord may drape down in front of the driver’s line of vision, causing a distraction or obstructing their view.
“A better position could be the bottom of the screen or on the dash,” he says, “although this would reduce field of view and some dash materials are not particularly compatible with adhesives, which a lot of products use to secure them. Cameras can be hard-wired to the vehicle too which is a better solution but obviously needs a professional vehicle electrician to do.”