Dash cams can be a bit of a double-edged sword. While accompanied with numerous benefits, such as having evidence in case of an incident or reduced insurance premiums, many countries have been hesitant to adopt these in-vehicle recording devices in order to respect privacy or safety laws. Let’s take a journey around the world to see where the benefits of dash cams are being reaped, and where they are banned.
Of all of the regions of the world, Europe represents the most diversity in terms of its relationship to dash cams. Although Europe covers about half of global market share for automotive dash cameras, many nations in the region have placed an outright ban on drive recorders.
In countries like Russia, almost all citizens own and employ dash cams in their private vehicles, due to significant police corruption, high rates of accidents and unsafe road conditions, as well as low cost, easily available technology. On the other hand, in countries like Portugal, Luxembourg, and Austria, the use of dash cams or recording devices in public is completely illegal and violators will face heavy fines for breaking these laws.
Here, the biggest hurdle towards European dash cam adoption is overcoming privacy infringement. France and Belgium jump over this hurdle by only legalizing dash cams for private use, but preventing dash cam users from uploading footage publicly online. Germany recently passed a law that accepts dash cam footage as evidence in the highest court, but still rules that any public footage from dash cams must have license plates, faces, and any other personal imagery obscured or blurred to protect privacy.
Like Russia, dash cams are perfectly legal in Spain and the UK, both of which have the largest potential for growth in the European dash cam market. The only law about dash cams here is that they must not obstruct the driver’s field of vision or hinder their driving. Dash cams are also legal in Italy, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, Malta, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia, but each country has varying laws about the use of dash cams in relation to privacy and admissible evidence.
Now you know when you’re planning your trip across Europe to avoid the police in Russia, ditch the dash cams in Austria, and that your privacy will be respected in France. You can record yourself speeding down the autobahn as much as you’d like, but make sure you blur out everyone else.
As dash cams already are quite popular among Europeans, the Asia Pacific market is expected to have the highest revenue growth in the upcoming years. Taiwan, South Korea, and China are home to a large portion of global dash cam manufacturers, increasing the popularity of the technology in this region.
Over the past few years, China has seen a 20% increase in the use of dash cams, and that number will continue to grow as China will soon surpass the United Sates as the largest automobile market in the world. More cars means more dash cams. China currently holds the largest market share for dash cams in Asia, but other countries are seeing rapid growth as well.
Increasing vehicle sales in India and South Korea will also bring more drive recorders to the region. Problems with road safety and fraud in South East Asian countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore have led to rapid dash cam adoption in this region, as people want to protect themselves. Many of these countries are notorious for crazy and dangerous driving, so if you bring a dash cam along for yourself, maybe you’ll catch some footage that is worthy of going viral.
Japan is an outlier in this region, as drive recorders in this country are primarily focused on commercial applications, rather than for use primarily by private citizens. Car rental firms, taxis, and police across the island employ dash cams in their fleets to monitor drivers and enhance efficiency.
Crossing the Pacific, we arrive in North America, where dash cams have been on the rise around the United States and Canada. While Asia has the highest potential for growth, North America lags slightly behind, but is still ahead of Europe.
Canada and the US see a combination of consumer and commercial uses for in-vehicle drive recorders. In terms of the commercial sector, America has a large trucking and haulage industry, as well as increasingly popular ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft, leaving room for growth here. However, as Canada and the US are broken down into individual states with unique laws, the legality of dash cams varies among these different states or provinces.
While Europe battles privacy issues, the United States cares more about dash cams obstructing the windshield and the driver’s field of vision. States like California and Colorado allow dash cams to be mounted on the windshield, whereas states like Texas and New York forbid anything “non-transparent” to be mounted on the windshield. This is not to say that dash cameras themselves are illegal, but that drivers must be careful of where they place them in their vehicles.
While recording video is completely legal in the US, recording audio is not always permissible. So, you can record the road in front of you and the inside of your car, but be careful about picking up private conversations. Think about all of the deep, personal talks you’ve had inside of your car. You’d probably not want those to be documented.
All in all, dashboard cameras are powerful tools that benefit drivers, fleet managers, and law enforcement officers around the world. As drive recorders continue to grow in popularity, the world will become a safer and more accountable place. Just make sure you aren’t breaking any laws in the meantime.
Written by Bria Rosenberg, Intern at VIA Technologies, Inc.