The rise of the ‘dashcam’ is slowly helping to make taking the Big Lap that little bit safer … and may well help grey nomads with a potentially problematic insurance claim.
The devices are basically small cameras that are attached to a windscreen that record what happens while you drive. Although they are still relatively uncommon to Australia – in comparison to other parts of the world – they have already captured some footage which ranges from the hilarious to the downright terrifying.
From swaying caravans and close-shave overtaking manoeuvres to rollovers and head-on collisions, dashcams are starting to capture it all … and perhaps change the way we, and others, drive.
The main idea is to record events in a way that can establish the facts in an accident where fault is in dispute. Typically, the units are designed to record continuously and, when their data card is full, start overwriting. Or they can be switched on if a driver notices a problem such as erratic driving or an outburst of road rage.
Dashcams can be bought for less than $100 or so and go up from there. A typical setup might consist of a fixed-lens digital camera with a microphone that record to a media card. The unit is typically mounted to the front window with a suction cup. While low-end cameras record low-resolution video, a mid-range unit will usually deliver HD resolution, a colour display, and embedded GPS location data and time-stamp overlays.
High-definition and a wide-angle lens gather enough detail to read number plates and most will work to a greater or lesser degree at night. Many devices have motion sensors that automatically retain the portion before and after the car has been nudged. Adding GPS means it can accurately locate an incident and the speed your car is travelling.
In Australia, dashcams are a fairly new phenomenon, but local distributors have reportedly been astonished by the demand. Some insurance companies are now said to be examining whether to offer discounts to drivers with a dashcam, and they welcome the independent evidence a video recording provides.
While holding video evidence in the event of an insurance claim is thought to be the major motivation behind dashcam purchase, grey nomads are also enjoying sharing footage of their journey with friends and family.
After all, who really believes your stories about the giant herd of camels that wandered right on the road in front of you, or the fact that you didn’t see a single other vehicle in an entire day of Outback driving?