Thanks to SA’s scary road accident rate, the prevalence of “spotfine” seeking traffic officials, plus the high percentage of un-roadworthy vehicles and uninsured drivers on our roads, dash cams can no longer be considered nice-to-have gadgets – they’ve become a necessity. Read on to find out why you should consider fitting one of these practical, all-seeing electronic witnesses to your vehicle.
We might not live in the Wild Wild West, but when we get into our cars and hit the road it can sure feel like it. If it is not someone stopping in the middle of the road to take a leak (I actually witnessed this the other day), it’s something else equally bazaar. Then we get mini bus taxis – everyone’s favorite and an unrepentant law unto themselves. We all know traveling on our roads can be unsafe. Sadly, the annual road fatality statistics for 2017, recently published by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), just confirms this disturbing fact.
Understandably, respected road safety organisations such as Arrive Alive and the Automobile Association (AA) are horrified. So much so, that the AA published a strong-worded press release in which it stated: “These figures are alarming, and should worry every motorist in the country. These numbers seem to indicate that awareness campaigns and education initiatives are not working well enough, driver attitudes are getting worse, and that law enforcement is not making the impact it should. We are deeply concerned about these fatalities, more so because they show an increase, and call for urgent action from all role-players involved in road safety to reverse this.”
Why fitting a dash cam to your fleet vehicles makes sense
Realising that the only real option for responsible drivers right now is to watch their own backs, both the AA and Arrive Alive recommend the fitment of dashcams to vehicles. Their reason becomes doubly apparent when you consider the high percentage of uninsured drivers (estimated to be between 65 and 70 percent) on our roads. And lets not forget the estimated 800 000 unregistered or un-roadworthy vehicles driving around. These realities can lead to drawn out litigation as uninsured, errant drivers try everything they can to avoid taking responsibility – mainly because they can’t afford to! As a consequence, things quickly degenerate into he-said-she-said situations, and the truth often gets very blurred.
Dash cams, by providing an unbiased, documented telemetric (data) and visual (video) breakdown of events, solve all that – completely removing to-and-fro arguments about who’s really at fault from the equation. Further more when a death occurs in a fatal accident it can cost fleet owning companies a lot of money proofing that the accident was not caused by their driver.That aside, video footage of bizarre traffic incidents always goes down well on You Tube!
How drivecams work
Quality dash cams, such as Digit’s latest offering – the DCam System – all work basically the same way. Up to 5 camera system, mounted onto vehicle windscreens viewing in and outside the cab and cameras on the side of the vehicle and facing back, also featuring onboard centralized MDVR box, they start recording video in a never-ending loop the moment you turn your vehicle’s ignition key; continually overriding old footage should nothing eventful occur. However, the moment any impact to the vehicle happens, the fleet manager can go to the footage and save all the video footage captured immediately before, during and after the incident – providing you with all the evidence you need to prove your side of the story to insurance companies and the courts should the need arise. Telemetric data, such as your speed and exact driving route, is also continually recorded and then saved.
Here are a few examples taken:
Evidence in case of an accident / crash reconstruction
Heaven forbid you ever end up in a bad traffic accident. But if your driver does, dash cams make perfect eyewitnesses as they provide real proof of what took place – making them the only real way to substantiate your claims in a court of law. They also help immensely when it comes to reconstructing accidents and establishing what the cause was. People who drive large SUVs and trucks often get blamed unfairly when involved in accidents. Plus many drivers are often accused of lane hogging, tailgating and other driver behaviors that might have caused an accident – your dash cam footage kills those kinds of accusations stone dead.
Fight corruption and fraud
There are some unscrupulous people out there who purposely cause crashes, then blame the innocent party. They may try to extort money from victims or fake injuries to collect payment from insurance companies. Video footage provided by a dash cam can stop these fraudsters in their tracks. They are also very handy devices when drivers get falsely accused of trying to bribe traffic officials. Not only will you have evidence of your driving prior to being stopped, but the subsequent conversation can be recorded, too.
Preventing vehicle abuse and misuse
Not only can the drivers of company vehicles be monitored, but so can anyone else who hops behind the wheel and uses them. By simply checking out the telemetric data and video footage you’ll know exactly how your vehicle’s been treated. In fleet management and vehicle logistics circles, dashboard camera recorders contribute towards better management and efficient fleet maintenance. They can be used alongside a fleet management or vehicle tracking systems for effective supervision of speed, the route chosen and general driving behavior. They can also reveal unnecessary lane changes, poor following distances and many other dangerous driving activities.
Monitoring young drivers
Parents of teens often worry endlessly about letting their children take their cars out. Nowadays many parents just tell their teens they need to accept driving with the dash cam on if they want to hit the road. The camera footage and stored telemetric data can provide evidence as to whether the teens are acting responsibly behind the wheel or not. They can also be beneficial when checking up on your Au pair’s driving habits when she’s shuttling the kids around.
Reporting bad drivers
There are many ways to report bad driving nowadays to both transport authorities and fleet managers. Video evidence from dash cams can be used to report drunk drivers, distracted drivers, dangerous drivers and road rage incidents. As video provides real evidence of what happened, it also helps keep drivers alert and responsible when driving as they know they could end up on camera.
Promoting road safety and educating the public via video footage
Sure, video is an effective way of showing wrongdoings on the road. But it can also be used as an educational tool and used effectively in driver training. It’s also worth remembering that not everything about dash cams has a serious side – using them can be fun. For example, when driving a scenic route you can record magical road trip moments, then share them with friends and family once back home.
Assisting car insurance companies with insurance claims
It can be extremely hard for insurance companies to determine who exactly caused an accident. Footage from dash cams is not only useful for supporting insurance claims but also when it comes to apportioning the right amount of blame to the parties concerned.
Bottom line: The benefits of fitting a dash cam to your vehicle are numerous – and it’s not just me saying it, both Arrive Alive and the AA actively recommend them; you’ll never find a better endorsement than that. In fact, I see a day in the not-too-distant future when insurance companies begin offering discounts to dash cam users, in much the same way that they offer discounts to drivers who fit tracking devices to their vehicles today.
Article originally on NavWorld.