The age of the dash cam

Some of YouTube’s most popular videos are dash cam fails where cameras mounted on car dashboards (dash cams) have captured some curious and funny circumstances. The irony is that most of the footage captured is from Russia, which institutes dash cams as a necessary ‘evil’ for their insurance brokers.

But can South Africa’s security challenges benefit from dash cam technology? Recently, Garmin have launched an HD dash cam series – and it just might be worth investing in. So let’s review their latest release.

The dash cam is a high-definition camera that mounts to any vehicles’ windscreen and continuously records a 120 degree wide-angle view of the road, while driving (think GoPro footage). Once installed, the camera remains fully automated and it will start recording when the engine is turned on and stop when it is turned off. The dash cam records your drive in Full HD 1080p, with incident detection that saves footage of collisions and incidents automatically. Garmin have released two models – Dash Cam 10 and Dash Cam 20 (includes GPS). The rechargeable battery allows a user to use the snapshot feature to take still images, and even remove the dash cam from the vehicle to capture collision damage.

Facing the driver is a small LCD colour display that previews what the camera. You can play around with the various settings, menu options, and media playback controls via a bank of four physical buttons just below the screen. Once the vehicle is moving, the screen dims and then shuts off, leaving a small blinking red light to let you know that it’s still recording.

The camera records a continuous loop of the action happening outside, overwriting old footage as it loops around with new imagery. While it can capture up to 1080p video and audio, you can set it to record at a lower resolution or without audio to save space. It could be a game-changer for security jobs in Cape Town helping to deter crime in certain city hotspots.

Internally, the Garmin device is equipped with a sensor that detects bumps in the road, an important feature for South African roads. When the sensor is triggered, the camera beeps loudly and protects the video clip leading up to the bump and a few seconds following, saving the footage of a potential accident or security incident from being overwritten. This is a critical function of the device and is certain to improve both insurance claims and security moving forward.