How do dash cams work?
Each dash cam holds a memory card, which stores the captured footage once the camera is activated.
Very few dash cam models are battery-operated, so most will have a power cable which is plugged into the 12v port (or cigarette lighter) in the vehicle. Once the car starts, or the camera detects motion, the dash cam will start recording. They will often stop operating when the vehicle is turned off.
Depending on the dash cam you buy, when the memory card becomes full, some may simply start overwriting the oldest file and start recording again.
To watch the footage, you can take the memory card out and insert into your computer. Some dash cams may have functions that allow you to play back directly on the device or on your smartphone.
What are dash cams used for?
Anyone with a vehicle is legally allowed to use a dash cam, provided it is installed properly. Some newer cars, such as the BMWs produced after 2019, newer Mercedes-Benz, and Tesla, have dash cams built-in as standard.
Many car dealerships will also offer dash cams as an aftermarket purchase which will be installed prior to delivery.
While 83 per cent of study respondents said the main reason they purchased a dash cam was for insurance purposes, they can used for a variety of reasons, including:
- Evidence for insurance claims
- Monitoring other drivers (grown children borrowing the vehicle)
- Road safety, or reporting other reckless or illegal driving
- Vlogging and entertainment
How do I install a dash cam?
Dash cams can either be mounted on the windshield, usually just behind the rear-view mirror so you still have a clear view of the road and traffic around you. This can be with a DIY suction cup, or professionally mounted.
If aesthetics are important to you, consider going with the professional who may be able to hide the wiring for the dash cam inside the fabrics of the roof or down the edge of the windshield.
RACV Members save on dash cams at Repco.
If you’re opting for the DIY solutions, that’s fine, but before you decide where to position your dash cam, according to VicRoads, dash cams “must be securely mounted to the vehicle to ensure that the fitment does not pose a hazard to vehicle occupants or obstruct the driver’s vision.”