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A pair of black devices with small monitors stuck with suckers to the inside of a car windshield with blue tint at the top, seen from inside the vehicle
Two dashcams on a windshield

A dashcam or dashboard camera is an onboard camera that continuously records the view through a vehicle's windscreen. It may be attached to the interior windscreen or to the top of the dashboard, by suction cup or adhesive-tape mount. Dashcams may provide video evidence in the event of an accident.


By purpose:

  • only front view,
  • front and back view,
  • cabin view (taxicam).


A dash cam camera differs from other cameras by the fact that it has to be an independent witness, require minimum attention, let the driver do the driving

  • typical camera properties in general (resolution, frame rate, focus distance, aperture) and how these are set, varied are optimised for the purpose;
    • resolution and optics quality are important for visibility of details such as number plates. As of 2016 is 720p past, 1080p today, and 4k future.
    • higher frame rates are important to get the details of an event.
    • focus and aperture settings must be optimum for the situation just outside the car.
    • some cameras may even have an automatic zoom to record a perpetrator speeding away.
  • handsfree start-stop; typically by ignition key or g-force sensors.
  • easy memory management; typically looping around and erasing the oldest recorded videos that are not marked as important; the stored files will be broken up into 1-3 minute recordings. Recording media is typically an SD card of a given quality (might restrict choices) and capacity (might restrict looping time; depending on resolution 32gb gives minutes or hours of recording time to loop around). Some may let the user lower the recording resolution, so the rest of the trip is less likely to overwrite things earlier that the user deems important.
  • easy marking of important videos; typically by g-force sensors and manually at recording and/or viewing time. Some will let you store a copy in your smartphone via WI-FI .
  • easy battery power management; typically not recording during parking time, except when g-force sensors indicate an event, and when the car battery does not risk going flat.
  • internal emergency battery; in case the event switches the external power to the camera off, or in case of parking mode without car battery power.
  • recording in dark ; typically by infrared LED light of its own, and infrared recording, of scenes within LED light reach, for example the interior of the cabin.
  • registering GPS position, date and time on to the video.
  • instant reviewing ; typically on an on-board screen or on a smartphone/tablet via WI-FI. This function might reduce discussions at the event site.
  • active messaging; typically if the driver looses consciousness (sudden g-forces followed by no driver or outside activity), message may be sent to emergency help of users choice. Another typical use is in case an event occurs in parking mode, message may be sent to the user.
  • microphone to receive/record sounds
  • simple status verification; typically by colour LED lights, and/or voice messages
  • ability to tolerate the heat in a car parked under sun, or the cold of car parked in freezing winter.
  • hiding in plain view; typically to avoid burglary targeting the camera itself, or to aesthetically blend to the cars interior.
  • other functions: since the camera looks continuously to the scene in front of the vehicle, image processing gives opportunities to detect and give warning for drifting out of the lane, approaching to a possible collision, etc..


Dashcams are widespread in Russia[1] as a guard against police corruption and insurance fraud, where they provide additional evidence.[2] They have been called "ubiquitous" and "an on-line obsession", and are so prevalent that dashcam footage was the most common footage of the 2013 Chelyabinsk meteor,[3] which was documented from a dozen angles. Thousands of videos showing automobile and aircraft crashes, close calls, and attempts at insurance fraud have been uploaded to social interactive and sharing websites such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other websites.

In the UK, sales of dash cams rocketed in 2015 according to data from independent retail analysts GfK, which showed that dash cams were the fastest growing consumer electronic, with sales increasing by 395%.

As of March 2016, separate GfK stats show that Nextbase’s range of dash cams accounts for more than 68 per cent of this market by volume and 73 per cent by value.[4]


While dashcams are gaining in popularity in many parts of Asia, Europe (particularly UK and France), Australia and the US, they are forbidden by law in Austria,[5] where they carry heavy fines. In Switzerland, their use is strongly discouraged in public space as they may contravene data protection principles. [6] In Germany,[7] while small cameras for personal use in vehicles are allowed, posting footage from them on social-media sites is considered a violation of privacy and thus forbidden. Dashcam footage is only in exceptional cases admissible as evidence in a German court. In Luxembourg, it is not illegal to possess a dashcam but it is illegal to use one to capture videos or still images in a public place (which includes in a vehicle on a public road). Recording using a dashcam may result in a fine or imprisonment.[8] In Australia recording on public roadways is allowed as long as the recording does not infringe upon one's personal privacy in a way that may be deemed inappropriate in a court of law.[9]

In the United States, at the federal level, "the video taping of public events is protected under the First Amendment" right.[10] Videotaping of non-public events and videotaping-related issues, including sound recording and matters related to time of the day, venue, manner of recording, privacy concerns, implications on motor vehicle moving violation issues (such as whether the windshield view is being blocked), etc., are dealt with at the state level. In the state of Maryland, for example, it is illegal to record anybody's voice without their consent, but it is legal to record without the other party's consent if the non-consenting party does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy with respect to the conversation that is being recorded. In other states, including Illinois and Massachusetts, it is always illegal regardless of whether or not there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, and in such states the person doing the recording would always be in violation of the law. In Illinois, a law was passed that makes it illegal to record law enforcement officers even while in the performance of their public official duties.[11]

Police use[edit]

Police departments use dashcams in police vehicles to gather evidence during traffic stops and car chases.[12] Some dash cam systems can be automatically activated when a police car's emergency lights or siren are turned on.[13][14][15] Freedom of information laws mean that the footage can be released under some circumstances,[16] and this can be an important tool in reporting on police actions.[17] TV shows like World's Wildest Police Videos have frequently featured car chase videos shot from dashcams.

Some police officers accused of police brutality tamper with their cameras to disable audio or video recording.[18] In Chicago 80% of the police dashcams did not work properly. Causes was for instance that officers destroyed antennas, hid microphones and removed batteries.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lavrinc, Damon (2013-02-15). "Why Almost Everyone in Russia Has a Dash Cam". Wired. 
  2. ^ Galperina, Marina (2012-06-13). "Why Russians Are Obsessed With Dash-Cams". Jalopnik.com. Retrieved 2014-02-12. 
  3. ^ "Russian dash cam video: From stunning to bizarre". CBS News. 2013-02-18. Retrieved 2014-02-12. 
  4. ^ "Dash cam sales grow faster than tablets and digital cameras in 2015". Retrieved 2016-07-08. 
  5. ^ "Private Videoüberwachung: Datenschützer warnt vor Selbstjustiz". help.ORF.at. 2013-05-04. Retrieved 2014-02-12. 
  6. ^ "Guidelines on video surveillance in vehicles (Dashcams)". edoeb.admin.ch. Retrieved 2014-04-21. 
  7. ^ "Gerichtsurteil zu Videokameras im Auto: Dashcams verstoßen gegen Datenschutzgesetz". Der Spiegel. 2014-08-12. Retrieved 2014-11-03. 
  8. ^ "Les caméras de surveillance installées dans les voitures sont-elles licites ?". www.guichet.public.lu. Retrieved 2016-02-03. 
  9. ^ "Dashcams 101". Dashcams. 2013-12-01. Retrieved 2016-01-07. 
  10. ^ Opinion granting motion to dismiss. Maryland v. Graber. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
  11. ^ In Spite of State Law, Maryland Law Enforcement Officials Still Arresting, Charging People for Recording Cops. Radley Balko. Reason.com 29 May 2010. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
  12. ^ "Cross-Examining Film". ssrn.com. 
  13. ^ "Local police support dash cam policies, protecting citizens and officers". KHOU. 25 April 2012. 
  14. ^ "LAPD officers tampered with in-car recording equipment, records show". latimes. 
  15. ^ "Court orders state police to hand over cruiser dash cam video of crash scene". PennLive.com. 
  16. ^ "Court rulings bolster public access to police videos". splc.org. 
  17. ^ "How a little-known, Uber-driving freelancer brought the lawsuit that forced Chicago to release a police shooting video". Columbia Journalism Review. 
  18. ^ http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/01/chicago-police-officers-tampered-with-dash-cams.html
  19. ^ Time: Chicago Police Officers Sabotaged Dashcams to Block Audio, Report Says

External links[edit]