Scott Hanselman

Everyone should get a Dashcam

February 5, '18 Comments [33] Posted in Reviews
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A clean dashcam installationI've put Dashcams in both my car and my wife's car. It's already captured two accidents: one where I was rear-ended and one where someone fell asleep as they were driving a few cars ahead of me on the freeway.

After these two experiences, I will never drive a car without a dashcam again. Case in point - being rear-ended. I was at a red light, it turned green, and as I accelerated I got nailed from behind, pushing me into the intersection. The gent jumped out and started yelling and waving his arms, saying I backed up (!), and I said, "I'm sorry, but I've got a dashcam both front and back." He got really quiet, and then we exchanged information. When I called the insurance company on Monday and told them I had not only Dashcam footage but that the cam recorded date and time, gps coordinates, speed and 1080p video both front and back, including the face and license plate of the other driver...I had a check that Thursday afternoon.

I was driving at night on I5 from Seattle to Portland and noticed a truck two or three (long) car lengths ahead of me start to drift, drift, drift off to the side...and then suddenly jerk hard to the left, cross all lanes of traffic and slam into the median in a shower of sparks and eventually balance on top of the center median. While I wasn't involved in the accident, I pulled over and dropbox'ed the video to the cops right there. The officer on duty said that dashcam footage made things 100% easier.

A cropped and somewhat compressed version of this video is embedded below, and also linked here. Now, it was late at night and I've cropped it, but you can see the car get "sleepy" and slowly float across all lanes to the right, hit the right side, then overcompensate and hit the center. This contradicted the driver's statement that he was hit by another car.

Disclaimer: This is older DR650 footage in the dead of night that's been cropped to remove identifying info. Check out this example Dashcam footage of a DR750 for a better sense of what to expect.

411gAnMBbaLI've put Blackvue Dashcams in both our cars. I put a Blackvue DR750S-2CH with Power Magic in car. A PowerMagic will power the dashcam while the car is parked, and catch anything that happens even if the car is off, and it will shut off if it detects that it's in any way discharging the 12V battery below a set voltage. I like the DR750 because it's 60fps 1080p on the front, and it can optionally buffer the video to memory so it's not beating on the SD card and shortening its life. It also has g-force and impact sensors, so as you get in the car it'll say (literally speak) "an impact was detected while in parking mode."

My wife didn't care about these more advanced features so she got the Blackvue DR650S-2CH. It's last year's model but still does 1080p front and back. There's a main wire that handles power for the main unit (either from a 9V cigarette lighter or the PowerMagic), then there's a long, long wire that you'll fish though the plastic panels of your car that will power and run the back camera.

It only took about two hours for me to install the camera, per car, and installation consisted mostly of hiding wires in the existing plastic panels and pushing the wires out of sight. The final look is very sanitary and requires zero maintenance.

The camera has wifi built-in and there's a free app to download. You connect your phone (whenever necessary) to the camera's wifi and download videos as needed. That's why it was super easy for me to Dropbox the footage without connecting to a PC. That said, there are Blackvue desktop apps that will show you maps with your position and speed and allow you to stitch footage together. You can also stamp date, time, speed, and custom text to the footage so it's embedded in the resulting MP4s.

I've had zero issues with my dashcams, and as I said, I'm sold. It's a no-brainer and frankly, it should be built into every car. I'll be installing a dashcam in whatever car my soon-to-be teenager drives, count on it.

Maybe you won't get into an accident (hopefully!) but you could catch a meteor on your dashcam!

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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Tuesday, 06 February 2018 05:06:01 UTC
Is there any installation required beyond sticking them to your windshields? I don't own a car but I rent frequently, and I've considered dash cams for my protection.
Ben
Tuesday, 06 February 2018 05:07:10 UTC
I don't understand why they're not integrated in cars!
Francesco
Tuesday, 06 February 2018 05:11:50 UTC
I had a Blackvue myself... but it stopped working after about a year... never bothered to fix it though...

Nowadays we can get much cheaper dashcams at comparable (if not better) video quality... so after reading this I might buy (or two) myself... Xiaomi Xiaoyi dash cam is very good for the price... not sure whether it is available in Seattle though...
rosdi
Tuesday, 06 February 2018 05:19:52 UTC
What about security? I've largely stopped buying devices like this unless I have great confidence in the manufacturer. (And I can count on about one hand the number of companies I trust to get security right on embedded devices.)
Drew Loika
Tuesday, 06 February 2018 06:22:37 UTC
Fun fact from around the world. There's several European countries where dashcams are forbidden due to privacy laws. Doing (automated) surveillance as a private citizen is a big no-no.
Michael
Tuesday, 06 February 2018 06:44:31 UTC
Do you think this invites thieves at all to steal the dash cam?? I've had a window broken and radar detector stolen before and don't like anything on show now.
Andee
Tuesday, 06 February 2018 07:16:11 UTC
These things are not legal in Germany.
Tuesday, 06 February 2018 07:45:52 UTC
@Manuel Where did you get that from? Dash cams are NOT illegal in Germany.
Paťo
Tuesday, 06 February 2018 07:50:44 UTC
They are legal in Germany as long as you don't publish the video.
Same here in Switzerland.

Fun fact, Street View is not available in Germany.
Francesco
Tuesday, 06 February 2018 07:50:53 UTC
Doesn't work in other countries (and for me personally). If I drive around here in Germany and record people without their consent, it'll be me who gets sentenced instead of the "bad guys" (OK, maybe I *am* the bad guy - but you get the idea). I agree that dashcams would make things a lot easier but that's the same argument that officials use to sell surveillance cameras on each and every street corner to the people. More surveillance is not the solution. Would you dare to pick your nose in a public place if you knew (or even suspect) there's a camera recording you right now? I wouldn't and that's the problem with camera surveillance - people change their behavior, even when it's not criminal or objectionable at all.
Olaf
Tuesday, 06 February 2018 08:36:01 UTC
Fun fact, The Russians must have hacked Streetview - https://tinyurl.com/y8mxuw2p
Robert Armour
Tuesday, 06 February 2018 08:36:20 UTC
@Francesco - Street View is available in Germany. You can ask Google to delete the picture of your house/property for privacy reasons, but Street View is very much available.

To elaborate my point about "recording people without consent": dashcams are definitely forbidden in Germany, because they continuously record public spaces without cause, which violates privacy laws. And even if the recorded video contains evidence in case of an accident or a committed crime, the interests of the recorded persons concerned in protecting his or her general right to privacy outweigh any plaintiff's interest in obtaining evidence.
Olaf
Tuesday, 06 February 2018 09:16:17 UTC
My wife didn't care about these more advanced features so she got the Blackvue DR650S-2CH. It's last year's model but still does 1080p front and back.

No, it doesn't. It records 1080p front and 720p back.

I like the DR750 because it's 60fps 1080p on the front

60 FPS is a waste of resources, as it doesn't enhance the clarity of the picture, not even a tiny bit. The problem is that even though the image is 1080p, it's not stored raw, but in compressed format, and because of that it's actual resolution is far lower. 30FPS should be more than enough for dash cam purposes - but we would need less compression, so the image stays clearer.

Obviously the problem is that you can't really quantify image compression in a comparable way, and people have no clue about it anyway, so they will go for the megapixels and FPSes, which really mean nothing and are at best only marginally indicative of the resulting footage.
FF22
Tuesday, 06 February 2018 09:52:46 UTC
My dad gave me a dashcam last year for my birthday. Last month that paid off, I had evidence I was not at fault in an incident. That was the motivation I needed to finally fit the hard wire kit rather than use the 12v socket. Mines less fancy than yours and I have to remove the SD to get footage off so I may well upgrade to a wifi version now.

I have a piece of that meteor on my shelf about 1cm across. My sister was "the scientist" in the Channel 4 documentary so went to the impact site and various bits of Russia to cover it. Her fragment is the same size and shape as a McNugget.
cHRIS
Tuesday, 06 February 2018 13:08:58 UTC
In Austria, these are illegal. You need a permit to use one.

For publishing Video on on the internet (like the one in this post), you get something like 10.000 euro fine in Austria.

The motivation is protecting privacy. Everybody should have right to commit a crime (c) :D
Nikolay
Tuesday, 06 February 2018 13:45:22 UTC
Using a dashcam in Germany is legally problematic and can be punished with a fine of up to 300000 €.

They are allowed for personal use, but before giving the recording to the police or insurance company, you should first talk to your lawyer. It is best if you only turn on the dashcam when you have a good reason to suspect an accident is about to happen, and if the recordings are (normally) deleted after a short time.

Posting it on the Internet (ex. what you did here) without the approval of everyone on the video is definitely illegal.

More details can be found at https://www.adac.de/der-adac/rechtsberatung/verkehrsvorschriften/inland/dashcam/
Daniel Rose
Tuesday, 06 February 2018 13:52:32 UTC
I’m surprised that insurance companies haven’t started offering substantial discounts for having one
TimB
Tuesday, 06 February 2018 14:42:35 UTC
@TimB Some do, Adrian Flux for example.

I am looking at getting one. I have had friends stung by "he said, she said" situations in the past (got ploughed by a bus on a light-controlled T-junction in the early morning hours, bus driver swears "my light was green". Only a dashcam can prove this for the layman).
Adam H
Tuesday, 06 February 2018 15:16:28 UTC
After came to North America, driving with a dashcam(at least have the front one) is a must if I am driving. Too many axxholes, rouge driver, scams and people try to deny it's their fault in accident. Never considered one back in Australia/New Zealand. Maybe lack of trust or people worries about their insurance rather than others safety?

After compared online, chose Papago 760 Dash(2-way), only thing it lacks is built-in GPS, so does the speed recording(need GPS), but the GPS antenna can be purchased for another $50, in exchange it gives me the LCD to check recording without having my phone.
Xiao Han
Tuesday, 06 February 2018 15:28:12 UTC
I'd like to have one, if for no other reason than to start a YouTube channel of all the idiot things I see PDX drivers doing during my commute, but $400 (or $800 to equip both our cars) is way too rich for my blood.
Craig Wagner
Tuesday, 06 February 2018 17:37:02 UTC
It's so nasty that there are folks out there making it their day job to scam people with stunts like you described in your post. I don't drive right now, but if I start driving again I'll install dash cams the minute I get a car.
Tuesday, 06 February 2018 20:35:00 UTC
I could forsee an insurance system popping up where you must be able to have evidence of fault to get a payout from them or else it is some fractional amount. While the footage could be very helpful in some cases, I think the bigger impact is in all the cases where the exact footage wasn't caught that was needed and eventually insurance no longer has your back.
Aaron W.
Wednesday, 07 February 2018 01:43:51 UTC
@olaf you’re tight.. my German colleague was wrong
Francesco
Wednesday, 07 February 2018 05:24:24 UTC
I am so grateful that I invested in a dashcam for my business. I purchased the LG Innotek 3.5" 720p Touchscreen Dashcam for all my trucks and it saved me from a lawsuit from one of the tree removal jobs my crew was on. Had the whole incident recorded and the client had no leg to stand on when he took me to court. Enjoyed your article and yes sometimes you pick up some quirky recording too.
Thanks for a good read.
Elizabeth
http://www.treeserviceajax.com
Wednesday, 07 February 2018 06:16:07 UTC
Privacy concerns should weigh heavily on the use of these cameras. Recording on public property has to have some limits. Google cannot park outside my home and record my front door for street view for hours at a time.

No
Wednesday, 07 February 2018 11:54:08 UTC
Went down a bit of a youtube dashcam rabbit hole.
The nighttime footage of the 650 is very poor compared to the 750. youtube screenshot: https://screenshots.firefox.com/K6J7KZlPiXc94TtH/www.youtube.com
cd
Wednesday, 07 February 2018 22:36:05 UTC
I'm here and it's not about the bloody dashcam, I just found on the web your font awesome article and realized that. I dont use "fa" on class.. Man you are a life saver :)
Thursday, 08 February 2018 06:33:05 UTC
Olaf, I talked with a lawyer, and dashcams are, to cite you, definitely, not forbidden in Germany.
Thursday, 08 February 2018 08:38:50 UTC
Uwe,

Daniel Rose's link to the german ADAC web site (https://www.adac.de/der-adac/rechtsberatung/verkehrsvorschriften/inland/dashcam/) describes it very well. I am no laywer (and I have to cite the page in german, sorry to all non german speaking readers), but the following passages can only be interpreted as "even if you won't get busted for owning a dashcam, you must not use it to record public places - except for personal use like vacation videos, etc.". For me, that's pretty close to "forbidden" in the sense of the intended usage scenario for dashcams.


"Das unbemerkte Filmen von Autofahrern und Fußgängern auf öffentlichen Straßen ist ein erheblicher Eingriff in das informationelle Selbstbestimmungsrecht und grundsätzlich nicht mit dem deutschen Datenschutzrecht zu vereinbaren."

[...]

"Schutzwürdige Interessen anderer Verkehrsteilnehmer überwiegen nach dem Beschluss der Datenschutzaufsichtsbehörden [...] in den meisten Fällen das Interesse des Benutzers, so dass von einer Unzulässigkeit von Dashcams nach dem BDSG auszugehen ist." [...] "Dem hat sich das VG Ansbach in seinem Urteil vom 12.08.2014 (Az: AN 4 K 13.01634) inhaltlich angeschlossen."


How did the lawyer you asked interpret the current laws? I am not trying to be a smartass here, I am honestly interested in the subject.






Olaf
Thursday, 08 February 2018 10:33:33 UTC
Some options for you
1. 'Das unbemerkte Filmen' in law refers definitely to a hidden camera, A normally mounted dashcam is NOT a hidden camera, at least you had no intentions to hide it, so this law should not apply to it. Most of the 195 countries in the world have the same or very similar laws to protect personal data, but Germans are historically very good in overobeying any law.

2. You guys in Germany, Austria, etc. can build in a switch in the power line, so 'not using' the camera for general recording, so you intend only to record accidents happening to you. If you are 'caught' with a running camera, you were just cautious by turning it on in advance to free up your hands to avoid an accident. A life-saving measure overrules any silly law in any civilized country.

3. Dont' forget also that you are hobby bird- or meteor-watcher try to catch the next Tunguska or a Kakapo flying over Germany.
McFly
Friday, 09 February 2018 10:51:26 UTC
I was hit (deliberately - he looked at me before he hit me) by someone and lost the 2-year legal battle. A dashcam would have saved me a lot of time and money. I now use it all the time!
Pieter Hartzer
Monday, 12 February 2018 06:18:48 UTC
Thanks Scott. I was thinking of getting a cam for a few months now, and based on your article I went ahead and bought a Blackvue DR750S-2CH and am pleased with how relatively easy it was to install cleanly and get running.

As far as I understand it is legal to use in Germany as long as you don't publish the videos, and illegal to have installed in your vehicle at all in Austria. If any doubt of the legality of dashcams then I recommend the readers above check their country's relevant government department for regulatory advice.

Andrew
Tuesday, 13 February 2018 18:04:50 UTC
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.