‘They don’t just record the world outside the car, they also record your own driving, and that puts people in a self-regulating mindset’. This quote by Tadanori Yamaguchi, a professor in traffic psychology at Osaka International University, gets straight to the heart of why dash cams are such a prominent fixture in the modern vehicle. Whether it be police cars, buses, heavy goods vehicles, or just standard passenger vehicles, this technology is widely recognized for its impact on driver performance and direct accountability. It also finds itself becoming increasingly prevalent, transitioning from something that is highly recommended into a necessity.
While the ubiquity of consumer dash cams in past decades has helped drivers collect evidence when they need it most, advances in dash cam technologies are changing the ways commercial fleets do business, offering managers new methods for optimization, data collection, and efficiency, on top of leading-edge driver safety functionality. No longer a mere car accessory, dash cams have now become a sophisticated piece of technology that can transform a professional fleet.
In the 1980s, police officers in Texas began setting up tripods inside their cars and installing VHS cameras in order to record activity and ensure officer safety. As the ‘90s rolled in, the tables were turned and citizens began following suit. Throughout the early history of the device, in its various guises, the transformative impact of dash cams has centered on bringing objective truth to an area steeped in subjectivity. This grants its status as an absolute game changer for law enforcement, providing anyone involved in traffic-related incidents with direct access to valuable and pertinent evidence. This impact is perpetually increasing: in the UK alone a total of 32,370 pieces of footage were received by 24 different police forces in 2019, more than double the number recorded in 2018 (15,159).
However, despite the dash cam’s American origins, it was the trailblazing Russians who popularized the technology. After the Interior Ministry issued a new law permitting citizens to install in-car cameras in 2009, it was reported in 2013 that over a million Russian drivers used at least one dash cam in their car. This new law was brought in due to an increasing number of insurance fraud cases that were forcing drivers to pay large amounts even when they were not at fault.With dash cams allowing drivers to protect themselves against these false claims, the number of enthusiasts has continued to increase each year. Meanwhile, as various dash cam-recorded videos surfaced on the internet (especially around the spectacular 2013 meteor explosion captured predominantly on dash cams), sales worldwide began to boom.
Dash Cam Usage around the World
Back in August 2020, we released a popular blog post on the different ways dash cams held prominence across the world: I would recommend checking that out for a more in-depth look at this particular subject. It remains that many use cases differ noticeably, not simply from continent to continent, but country to country. Europe, for instance, features a stark variance in dash cam adoption. As touched upon earlier, there is extensive ownership across Russia, leading some to call it the ‘epicenter of the dash cam revolution’.
In the UK, dash cams are essential in stopping the prominence of ‘crash for cash’ insurance fraud claims, which are costing UK drivers an estimated £340m every year, bumping up premiums for everyone. Clear dash cam footage quashes the potential for this; from 2013 to 2017, ownership of such devices increased from 1% of drivers to 15%. Other countries like Italy, the Netherlands, and Scandinavian nations are also seeing widespread adoption. However, this contrasts with countries like Austria and Portugal which, due to stringent privacy laws, have banned dash cam use, with a fine of 10,000 Euros for violating this rule and a subsequent 25,000 Euro fine for continued breach.
Unsurprisingly, there exists immensely high growth potential in Asia. With an expanding population and more people than ever on the roads (China has just surpassed the United States as the largest automobile market in the world), it’s no surprise that the continent, along with Oceania, has the highest estimated growth rate for the next three years.
The US market also offers high growth potential. However, varied state laws hamper the rate of adoption: for instance, California and Colorado allow dash cams to be mounted on the windshield, whereas states like Texas and New York forbid anything that would obstruct view to be mounted there.
So what does the future hold for the dash cam? While consumer adoption will continue to grow thanks in part to incentives offered by insurers, the most dramatic change will be in the commercial sector. Combining AI-powered vehicle and driver safety features with 4G connectivity and seamless cloud integration, the pro dash cam is set to be a real game-changer for operators of all types of vehicle fleets.
Cloud connectivity is playing a key role in this shift. By enabling the real-time monitoring and analysis of rich telematics datasets collected by the device through its sensors, GPS chip, and the CAN bus, the pro dash cam provides operators with valuable insights into vehicle and driver performance and provides new avenues for optimizing fleet operations.
Businesses can rely on captured data and fleet connectivity to better plan maintenance. Through a fleet management portal, datasets like trip histories, fuel consumption, driver scores, and triggered alerts, can be accessed and further analyzed. This kind of functionality renders granular diagnostic detail of entire fleets, specific vehicles, or individual drivers, and shows which areas of an enterprise may be thriving and which areas may need improvement. Live streaming camera feeds and secure cloud data storage are just some of the other benefits that come with the cloud.
An important element of the pro dash cam is the integration of AI. By pairing sophisticated algorithms with Full HD cameras, these devices are able to detect unsafe driving behavior, like drifting from one’s lane (LDW) or an impending forward collision (FCW). When these hazards are detected, the device delivers an actionable warning, allowing the driver to correct course and thus drastically increasing vehicle safety.
Another innovative utility of AI is driver coaching. With cabin-facing cameras, pro dash cams can identify and alert operators of dangerous driver behavior, such as fatigued or distracted driving. Actionable alerts remind the driver to immediately correct this unsafe behavior and can help ingrain safer driving habits for life.
Integrating a host of advanced technologies into a single holistic device, pro dash cams provide fleet managers with a powerful new set of tools for transforming the safety and efficiency of their operations through rich data insights that were never possible before with previous generations of telematics devices. As they gain traction among commercial users, pro dash cams are sure to become a hit with consumers looking for smarter ways of improving the safety and reducing the running costs of their own vehicles.
Written by Stan Buckley, PR, Social Media Marketing and Marketing Communications intern at VIA and a Business Studies graduate from Lancaster University.