We were recently featured on this ABC News feature from Buffalo New York which raised some interesting questions about the topic of dashcams. While the ways a dashcams can benefit you are quite clear, is it possible that having a dashcam can hurt your case?
The attorney interviewed mentioned a few good points about how a dashcam could be used against the user themselves and the evidence tampering aspect of destroying said footage. She also talks about the legal requirements when it comes to producing the footage which for the most part seems to be on a voluntary basis. We're interested to see how laws might develop surrounding the use of dashcams and whether a legal requirement to produce footage would ever happen. We don't think it would be fair to require drivers to produce footage if they had a dashcam as dashcams can fail from time to time, especially when a poor quality or defective memory card is used. And then there's the fact that dashcams regularly overwrite footage, which in effect destroys evidence automatically).
The driver featured in the video, Tim Linton, caught a pretty serious accident on the highway involving a drunk driver and had to appear in court to testify. He hadn't really considered the negatives to owning a dashcam prior to what he witnessed but now is fully aware of how footage could be used against him. We think it's a good thing that drivers are aware of this as knowing full well their own behaviour is recorded on camera might motivate drivers to be more careful behind the wheel. We liken this to the "Observer Effect" or the "Hawthorne Effect" where study participants might change their behaviour because they know they are being observed.
Our fleet customers are fully aware of this effect. While part of the decision to invest in cameras for a fleet of vehicles is to protect against fraudulent claims and other drivers on the road, many fleet managers want to use these products to monitor their staff's behaviour. Products like the Blackvue DR650GW-2CH IR and Over the Cloud enhance this by adding real time speed and video monitoring as well as an ideal setup for interior surveillance. One of our local customers shared a video with us where their driver lost control and spun/crashed a truck on the highway, the built-in GPS proved that the driver was travelling at around the speed limit but was still going at a speed that the vehicle shouldn't have been travelling at given the wet road conditions and curve in the road which sparked a discussion between the manager and the driver.
Overall, we think it's best not to look at dashcams as a "get out of jail (or rising insurance premiums) free card" and we ourselves look at them as a tool that promotes safe driving. While there are tools like radar/laser jammers that can help drivers evade getting caught doing something illegal on the road, we feel that dashcams are an entirely different type of product. As more and more drivers adopt this technology in North America, we think that drivers will be more careful with how they might be perceived. There are an increasing number of YouTube channels dedicated to showcasing poor/dangerous driving, such as New Jersey Dashcam and dozens more like it where vehicle makes and models, license plates, and sometimes even faces are published online. Being featured on one of these channels would obviously be quite undesirable and can at times even lead to prosecution/charges such as in our friend xSupaD's video which busted a road rager. We like how this technology puts power in the hands of people in a way that deters against bad driving.