Dash cams have been in widespread use for many years. Small, economical and relatively easy to use, they are typically installed on or above the dashboards of vehicles. They’ve been used to record everything from accidents to a meteor speeding to a fiery collision in Russia. Their use in police cars to document events has also been a source of dramatic police chase videos for reality TV.
To learn more about them first-hand, I borrowed The Original DASH CAM2 from a company called 4sight, mounted it near the interior rearview mirror of my Mustang and put it through its paces.
The first thing you’ll notice about this dash cam is that it is really two cameras in one. It has two lenses: one is a mildly fisheye wide angle and the other is a long telephoto. Both lenses swivel 180 degrees on a horizontal axis, so you can easily adjust them to record in front of, behind or beside the camera. When pointed in the same direction they provide views of what is both near and far. A video monitor on the rear of the device displays a small split screen image of what is being recorded. It records audio as well as color video.
Plugging it into a 12-volt outlet recharges its battery. It automatically powers on and records when it is plugged in.
HD video (AVI) is continuously recorded on a microSD card (4GB to 32GB), which can then be removed and downloaded to a computer.
A button press can mute the microphone. To prevent accidentally recording over an event that needs to be saved, a press of the emergency event button locks and stores video from 60 seconds before the event. A G-sensor can be turned on to trigger this same function in the event of a sudden change in movement of the vehicle.
The Original DASH CAM2 enables drivers to record potentially useful things like the color of traffic lights, street signs, traffic, license plates, pedestrians, nearby activity, voices from inside the car, road conditions, weather and more. Using it while driving at night pretty well limits its usefulness to whatever is lit up by streetlights and car headlights – especially reflective signs and road markings. Everything else is very dark. Oncoming headlights do not ‘blind’ the camera, so the rest of the picture area is still visible.
Why should you consider using a dash cam? They can reveal who is at fault in a traffic accident or perhaps provide evidence of your innocence if you are ticketed for a traffic violation.
Once as I drew alongside a large semi-trailer truck, it experienced an explosive tire blowout, blasting tire debris at my car. I pulled off of the freeway at the next exit, where I discovered that my car had suffered significant damage. Since I had no idea whose truck that was, the repairs went on my insurance. A dash cam video might have shown the truck’s license plate or company.
Another time I was driving my Prius Plug-in in a carpool lane on a freeway. Suddenly the vehicle in front of me kicked up what looked like a sheet of plywood. Traffic was heavy so I could not swerve to avoid it. It created a wall in front me, which I hit. Fortunately I was able to maintain control of my car and I pulled safely off of the freeway. My car suffered damage and I had no way of identifying who sent the obstacle hurtling towards me, so my insurance company footed the repair bill. A dash cam could have identified the license plate number of the vehicle that I had been following.