What is a dash cam? How does it work? And which type of dash cam can accelerate your business’ growth?
Dash cams can help you cultivate better road-safety habits, cut out lazy or aggressive driving, and settle disputes. Dash cams aren’t just a boost for your reputation, either – with the savings available on fuel, mileage, and your insurance, they can help your business save money.
But what is a dash cam exactly, and how does it work? Furthermore, how do you choose the right type of dash cam for your fleet, and ensure you’re getting the best value for your business? Find out everything and more below.
What is a dash cam?
A dash cam is an onboard recording device, usually attached to the inside of the windscreen, which is used to capture video and audio from in and around your vehicle. This footage can be downloaded and viewed to provide insight into your drivers’ habits, and get to the bottom of things if there’s an accident.
How do dash cams work?
As with most tech solutions for businesses, dash cam solutions are comprised of two parts.
Dash cam hardware
First, there’s the hardware – in this case, the windscreen-mounted camera itself.
Once it’s installed to the inside or outside of your vehicle (tucked in behind the rearview mirror is usually the safest bet), it’ll capture what you want it to: whether that’s a view of the road ahead only, or footage from within the car, too.
And – at least where basic, off-the-shelf dash cams are concerned – that’s all there is to it. When you want to view the footage, you’ll have to manually remove the camera’s SD card, hook it up to your computer, and download the recording. Unless…
Dash cam software
With more advanced dash cam solutions, though, there’s a second component – the software. Here, video footage is transmitted via the cloud to an app on your smartphone or tablet.
Rather than having to wait until a journey’s over, you’ll get insights into what’s happening out on the tarmac in close to real time. With Verizon Connect, for instance, footage is available between three and five minutes after unsafe driving occurs.
You’ll also receive push notifications that let you know when there’s been an accident, so you can address it straight away – without having to sift through hours of footage first, or wait until your vehicle is back at base.
What are the features and benefits of a dash cam?
Though recording the road is their raison d'être, dash cams bring a whole host of additional features to the table. Here’s a whistle-stop tour:
GPS (Global Positioning Service) capability
A GPS-enabled dash cam has obvious advantages. As well as recording your vehicles’ journeys, it allows you to see where those vehicles are – and how far they’ve travelled. The good news is that GPS also allows you to optimise your routes and save cash on fuel.
The better news? These days, most dash cams do work with GPS – even the more basic varieties. However, the high spec dash cam options, such as Verizon Connect, still come out on top. Verizon Connect’s hardware sits as a function within its wider GPS fleet management software – allowing you to not only track your vehicles, but leverage data insights to get the most out of them, too.
Also known as an accelerometer, a G-sensor detects sudden changes in acceleration and direction, as well as harsh braking. Helpfully, it also measures the force applied during a collision – allowing you to extract important details from the footage, in the event of a crash.
Dash cams with ‘parking mode’ have the ability to record footage continuously – even when the vehicle isn’t in motion.
Parking mode (also known as ‘sentry mode’, or ‘360-degree surveillance’) is indispensable if you’re worried about your vehicles being vandalised or stolen when stationary.
While this feature tends to be restricted to the more high-end dash cam models on the market, we’d still recommend it – particularly for tradespeople that travel in vans full of expensive tools.
Simple, but essential. If your fleet is in haulage or logistics, and requires a lot of travel by night, you’ll need to make sure your chosen dash cam supports this feature.
The benefits of using a dash cam for your business’ fleet include:
- Helping settle insurance claims and determine liability
- Identifying where drivers are relying on inefficient routes
- Cutting down on fuel spend and reducing idling
- Driving down your insurance costs
- Acting as a deterrent for disruptive customer or passenger behaviour
- Maintaining a record of collisions, even when parked
- Determining the speed, acceleration, and location involved in an incident
- Monitoring the progress of deliveries or jobs in near real time
However, not all dash cams are created equal. And not all will provide the entirety of features above.
There’s a world of difference between a camera you might pay a few quid for at Halford’s, and a fully integrated, machine learning-driven piece of tech from a provider such as Verizon Connect.
Essentially, the benefits your business will get from a dash cam rely on how much you’re willing to pay, and on the specific type of dash cam your fleet needs.
What type of dash cam do I need?
Dash cams aren’t ever a ‘one-size fits all’ approach – just one of the reasons we always recommend a tailored, integrated dash cam solution, rather than a generic, off-the-shelf version.
Ultimately, the right dash cam for you depends on what you want to use it for. Whether that’s mainly for insurance purposes, or to make sure your drivers are on the ball, read on to find out what type of dash cam suits you best.
Front-facing dash cam
The bread and butter of the dash cam world, this device captures everything happening on the road ahead of your vehicle.
As the cheapest, most simple dash cam option around, front-facing dash cams are a great way to enter the market. They’re useful for proving who was at fault if there’s an incident, and for ensuring your employees are driving safely. And, if you decide you like it, it’s easier to scale up to a more high-end solution.
Front-facing dash cams are best for:
- Small fleets (less than five vehicles)
Front and rear dash cam
Traffic accidents, when they occur, tend to happen from behind. One piece of abrupt braking from the vehicle in front, plus one distracted driver behind, equals a mess your business doesn’t need. Here’s where the front and rear dash cam comes in.
By capturing footage from the rear – as well as the front – of your vehicle, this type of dash cam doubles your coverage in case of an unwanted prang.
That’s why we most recommend it for heavy vehicles, or those making long cross-country deliveries. It’s the law of averages, after all – the more hours you spend out on the road, the higher your chance of a scrape… and the more coverage you’ll require.
Front and rear dash cams are best for:
- Lorries and other HGV fleets
- Haulage businesses
Cabin view dash cam
Cabin view dash cams record footage from both the inside and outside of your vehicle. Why do you need footage from inside your vehicle, you ask?
Well, it’s not about spying on your employees – though a cabin view dash cam does allow you to stamp out dangerous and distracted driving. Rather, this type of dash cam is useful for taxi firms, who wish to provide their employees with an extra layer of security.
Dash cam footage can – and, in fact, has been – used in court as supporting evidence. That means it can act as an effective deterrent for any antisocial behaviour in the back of your taxis, and make your drivers feel safe and supported.
Better still, the more advanced cabin view dash cams can even prevent accidents happening in the first place. Samsara’s AI-equipped camera can spot if the driver is distracted, has their eyes closed, or is looking anywhere other than at the road.
Then, this smart dash cam speaks directly to the driver, issuing a warning and urging them to refocus their attention. It’s a life-saving feature that could be the difference between a successful job and serious injury.
Cabin view dash cams are best for:
How much does a dash cam cost?
The answer to this question really depends on how advanced (and how scalable) you need your dash cam setup to be.
The most basic dash cams (such as the RAC 100) start from around £15. Slightly more feature-rich off-the-shelf dash cams will set you back between £49 (for Nextbase’s rear-facing camera) and £89 (the Garmin Mini). Beyond this, you can pay up to £400 or more for higher spec solutions, such as the Blackvue DR900S front and rear-facing package.
Though these dash cams are available at a one-off (and relatively affordable) cost, we’d only endorse them for individuals, or for the smallest of fleets. If you’re in charge of at least five vehicles, you should consider a more advanced setup.
That's why (for businesses, at least) we recommend an integrated dash cam solution – one that backs up your onboard camera with intelligent software. A package like this will cost you a monthly fee to lease the software, with a single, one-time cost to purchase the devices themselves. Verizon Connect Integrated Video and Samsara are our top picks for this type of dash cam.
Am I responsible for installing my own dash cam?
Should you opt for a basic dash cam, then yes – you will be required to install it yourself. However, when you invest in an integrated hardware/software package, installation is often included at no cost, or is available from a team of experts for a nominal fee.
Many companies offer much-needed flexibility when it comes to installation. Verizon Connect, for instance, provides the option to self-install (with instructions online and activation available through an app), or to have a technician come to you.
Do dash cams constantly record?
Most dash cams are made to record continuously. However, some of the more high spec systems can be configured to only begin recording when sudden or adverse motion is detected.
Dash cams with parking mode can record continuously, regardless of whether the engine is on or the vehicle in motion.
How long do dash cams keep footage for?
When it comes to reviewing longer-term insurance claims, having access to historical dash cam footage is vital. However, you’ll need to ensure that you’re remaining compliant in the eyes of the law – specifically, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
That’s why we recommend opting for a cloud-based dash cam setup. This software puts GDPR at the forefront, allowing you to remain compliant by not holding onto any data your business might not strictly need for longer than permitted.
Verizon Connect’s software, for instance, can only retain footage for 90 days – helping you avoid hefty fines for non-compliance.
What are the best dash cams for businesses?
Our top pick is Verizon Connect’s integrated video solution, though we also recommend devices from Garmin, ASUS, Nextbase, and Cobra. For our full rundown on the best dash cams for small businesses, check out our bumper guide.
Or, for an even faster, more direct route to exploring the best dash cam selections for your business, try comparing quotes with us today. You know the deal – hit the button below to provide us with some details, and get free, no-obligation advice about the next step on your journey to dash cam success.