Dashcam pros and cons: Attorney Ben Schwartz weighs in from the perspective of a personal injury lawyer.
Hi, I’m Attorney Ben Schwartz.
Today, we’re going to talk about dash cams. I am a personal injury lawyer, and I handle personal injury cases. A lot of my cases involve car accidents and truck accidents.
We recently got into a discussion in our office: Should we encourage people to get dash cams to record what’s happening on the road? From our perspective, it might be helpful to have clients with dash cams that record exactly what happened.
I decided to get a dashcam and test it out. I don’t really want to get into talking about which brand is best; I just wanted to talk about the pros and cons of owning a dashcam.
The dashcam I ordered from Amazon is a very basic type. This one has a camera and microphone that will record:
- what is happening in front of your vehicle?
- what is happening in the back of your vehicle?
- what is happening inside your vehicle?
When you turn on your car, the dashcam turns on and records everything that is being said inside the car. (I think this is a little disconcerting. When I’m driving, I often talk on the phone through my Bluetooth®. The dashcam records both sides of the conversation…so it not only records what I’m saying, but it also records what the other person is saying. It saves everything onto a Micro SD card.)
Other features of the dashcam I purchased include:
- a charger through the cigarette lighter;
- a suction cup attachment which is relatively easy to install and attach to your windshield;
- automatic boot-up when you start your car and automatic shut-off when you turn your car off;
- an optional GPS unit.
When I turn mine on, I see a blinking signal to tell me that I don’t have my GPS unit plugged in. If I connect the GPS, it will record my speed.
I’ve been using this dash cam since last weekend. Right now, I’ve been using this for about 4 hours. It hasn’t run out of storage space yet. I haven’t had to take the memory card out yet.
From what I can see, there are definite benefits to using a dash that came like this one. As a personal injury lawyer handling car accident cases, I run into situations in which this could prove to be very useful. For example, if someone is the victim of a hit-and-run accident and no one got the tag of the car that fled, our client who has a dashcam might have recorded not only the tag number but the make and model of that car. I also have cases in which it is one client’s word against another motorist’s word. Maybe it’s a question of who had the right-of-way or who had a green light at an accident.
I’m litigating a case right now. I am representing a gentleman who was driving on King Street in Wilmington. He says he had the green light and was proceeding through an intersection. Another motorist came through the same intersection and struck him. The other motorist claims that he had the green light. If my client had owned a dashcam, we would be able to know conclusively who had the green light and who had the red light. From a forensic evidence perspective – and certainly from a personal injury lawyer perspective – a dash cam could be a really good thing.
There are also drawbacks. Not only will a dashcam document other people’s mistakes, but it’s going to document yours. If you’re the type of driver who likes to text and drive or who handles your iPhone and becomes distracted while driving, the dashcam will document that, too. If you are not the greatest driver in the world, the dashcam will document if you are speeding. If you have a GPS unit plugged in, it will also document your trips. It will generate evidence that could be used against you. You should evaluate yourself and your driving capabilities first.
Now, I realize that everyone thinks he or she is an above-average driver, but you know if you tend to speed. You don’t want that documented. You might not want to dashcam with a GPS in it. If you know that you will be doing something wrong because you typically do something wrong when driving, you might not want a dashcam in your car. If you are having marital problems and you talked to your girlfriend on the side when you’re in the car using Bluetooth, you might not want a dashcam. It will record your conversations. Your wife’s divorce attorney can get a hold of it and use it against you in family court proceedings.
There are a lot of pros and cons of owning a dashcam. I don’t think it’s obtrusive, and it doesn’t block my view. Frankly, I had it installed for several days without really noticing it.
Do a critical self-analysis of yourself and your own habits. Make a determination for yourself if you think this would be a good expenditure for you.
I’d like to know your thoughts! Please comment and let me know what you think.