Take any technology and given enough time people will find ingenious ways to use it. In Russia the use of dashboard cameras (dashcams) has become a key feature of daily life. The footage they’ve captured over there has led to a spate of interesting YouTube videos like this mildly disturbing video of a meteor strike and this one where a herd of cows gains accidental freedom (fortunately none of the animals appear to be harmed by their spill).
Setting up a Dashboard Camera
It’s not hard for drivers to install and use a dashboard camera. You could buy a simple fixed-lens digital camera and then use a media card to record the input. Some people also add a microphone set up so that what’s going on inside the vehicle can be monitored too. You can power the setup from an accessory circuit or use a plug. Mid-range set ups cost around £50 to install and can capture GPS data, implement time-stamps and offer full HD colour video.
Spend a bit more and you can add multiple lenses and even a rear facing camera to capture everything going on around the vehicle.
In Russia the levels of insurance fraud committed have led to these cameras becoming mandatory. Insurers simply won’t pay out unless indisputable proof of what happened to a vehicle can be made available in court.
An Alternative Setup
For those drivers not keen to shell out for a camera for the car; there’s also an alternative setup. iPhone and Android users can install the Witness Phone App and then mount their phones on the dashboard when they’re driving.
At the moment insurers aren’t offering discounts for the use of a dashcam and that seems criminal. This is a tool which benefits insurers more than it does the drivers. The records generated by a dashcam prevent insurance fraud something that is estimated to account for nearly 20% of all motoring claims. That’s millions of pounds of payouts that could be saved by insisting that policy holders have a dashcam and that it’s reflected in their premium.
Given the ever escalating cost of motoring insurance for consumers this offers a genuine potential for insurance software and hardware to reduce premiums and win over a large number of new customers. It may also serve a social benefit of allowing poorer motorists to continue paying for insurance and keep their vehicles on the road.