Why Everyone Needs a Dash Cam - DriveSmarter


Protect Your Vehicle & Wallet From Numerous Threats

What Exactly is a Dash Cam?

When you think of dash cams you may think of the many videos shared to social media showing both funny and harrowing traffic incidents, natural disasters, and even capturing curious wildlife. Or you may think of gearheads with souped-up cars crammed full of the latest tech. But dash cams are far from just frivolous toys for techies and YouTubers. They are a powerful yet easy-to-use safety enhancement for all drivers, providing peace of mind, added protection in case of an accident, and much more.  

Dash cams, or dashboard cameras, are exactly that: cameras mounted to your vehicle’s dashboard. Within these parameters, you’ll find a lot of variation between dash cams currently on the market. The most basic will continuously record video and audio from a single lens, like your typical handheld camera. Advanced dash cams come with major additional benefits, like additional video channel(s), night vision, voice control, WiFi connectivity, and even G-force sensors that detect impact.

So why do you need a dash cam, and which features should you look for to get the most bang for your buck?

3 Compelling Reasons to Install a Dash Cam ASAP

Cobra SC 200D Dash CamConscientious drivers and people who do a minimal amount of driving each week often feel that dash cams are simply not for them. But dash cam owners have been spared the cost of repairs and worse because they were able to capture the truth of what happened during a parking lot fender bender, rush hour confrontation, or act of nature, such as a neighbor’s tree branch falling on your car.

Dash cams are your first line of defense against dishonest drivers, insurance fraud, and even law enforcement officers, who aren’t immune to mistakes. Here are the top 3 reasons everyone can benefit from a dash cam:

1. 90% of accidents are caused by human error.

Driver Swerving to Avoid CollisionYou don’t need a dash cam because you might make a mistake (though, let’s be honest, we all do from time to time). You need one because you share the road with thousands of other drivers each year — drivers who may be distracted, reckless, and downright unscrupulous when it comes to taking responsibility for their mistakes and dealing with insurance. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, just before crashes occur, 

  • 36% of drivers cross intersections improperly
  • 33% fail to stay in the correct lane or run off the road 
  • 12% stop in the road
  • And 9% lose control of their vehicle.

Whether it’s due to distraction, intoxication, fatigue, road rage, or inexperience, the drivers around you are by far the greatest threat to your road safety (and insurance rates!)

2. A lot can happen when your vehicle is parked — or you’re not the one driving.

Car sitting in parking lot as another car drives byIf your car is damaged while parked on the street or another driver is behind the wheel, you could be left without a clue as to what really happened. With the proper features, dash cams enable you to keep eyes on your car even when you’re not in it. 

The National Insurance Crime Bureau reported that a motor vehicle is stolen every 42 seconds in the US. This doesn’t even account for the frequency of vandalism and smash-and-grab robberies (when thieves shatter a window to steal something inside). A dash cam equipped with motion detection and WiFi connectivity would capture the incident and let you access the footage from your computer or smartphone.

If you have a teen driver in your family, you already wish you could keep constant watch over them on the road. The CDC found that teen drivers are more likely to speed, tailgate, drive distracted, fail to use seatbelts, and make critical decision errors. With a dash cam in place, you can review your teen’s driving habits and increase their accountability. And the same goes for anyone who may borrow your car, regardless of age or experience.

3. Insurance fraud is a multi-billion dollar racket.

Minor rear end car accidentAutomobile insurance fraud is rampant, fueled by organized criminal rings who stage crashes to claim payments for exaggerated vehicle damage and physical injury. This costs auto insurers nearly $30 billion a year, or 14 percent of all personal auto premiums.

If you’re involved in an accident with someone who is making false claims — saying you are at fault when you know you aren’t, or inflating injuries and medical bills — your dash cam footage may provide the proof you need to avoid a spike in your insurance premiums. It may even protect you from charges of negligence and worse.

Insurance fraud isn’t always premeditated. Whether they blew through a stop sign, sideswiped you while changing lanes, or hit your parked car, drivers at fault aren’t always willing to own up to their mistakes. They may speed away from the scene or give you fake insurance information. And without proof or solid witnesses, it’s your word against theirs. Unless you have a dash cam recording of the incident, that is.

Key Features to Look For in a Dash Cam

Dash cams have come a long way from their earliest iterations (think bulky pieces of equipment that recorded to VHS). With all our modern technological advancements and the wide range of options on the market today, don’t settle for a dash cam with less than these standard features:

Continuous Loop Recording Icon

Continuous Loop Recording

Your dash cam should automatically start recording when you start your vehicle, and never stop even when your memory card is full. It does this by overwriting, or looping over, older recordings after a number of hours.

Lock and Save Critical Footage Icon

Lock and Save Critical Footage

Your dash cam should automatically lock and save the footage surrounding an accident by using G-sensors to detect even slight impact. This means that important video will not be recorded over. And you should have the option to manually lock and save any recordings that you choose (even if it’s just a funny traffic mishap you happened to catch).

G-Sensor Detection Icon

G-Sensor Detection

Your dash cam should be able to detect bumps, hard-braking, and impact to your vehicle when it’s on the road and in park. This not only lets you automatically lock and save the footage you need, but also saves the event details like speed, force of impact, and location to the cloud.

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GPS Capability

Combined with G-sensor detection, GPS uses satellite-based radionavigation to embed accurate time, date, and location with video footage.

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WiFi Connectivity

If your dash cam isn’t WiFi enabled, you won’t be able to remotely access your video footage. Make sure your dash cam saves footage to the cloud so you can get the valuable proof you need when your car is parked, borrowed, or stolen.

Advanced Dash Cam Features Provide Ultimate Protection

Beyond the must-have features outlined above, there are additional functionalities that can seriously enhance your safety
— and make your dash cam extremely easy to use.

Cobra SC 201 Dash Cam with Advanced Features Mounted to Windshield

Real-Time Driver Alerts

Look for a dash cam that provides alerts to hazardous road conditions, driver speed, red light cameras, and more in real time. Cobra’s SC series of smart dash cams will even tell you exactly how close you are to the threat. The Cobra SC 201, SC 200 and SC 200D models are equipped with a display where, in addition to audible alerts, intuitive visual alerts are shown as well.

Cobra SC 200 Mounted to Windshield

Multiple Voice Commands

Voice commands allow you to keep your eyes where they belong: on the road. Control your dash cam with simple phrases, such as “Lock Video” to manually lock and save video, “Rear Video On” to display your rear view camera footage on screen, or “Take Photo” to instantly capture a still image without taking your hands off the steering. Check out the Cobra SC 200 and 200D dash cam for easy voice control.

Man looking at phone after receiving mayday alert from dash camera

Emergency Notifications

In the event of impact and collision, some dash cams like the Cobra SC series dash cameras will notify an emergency contact in addition to automatically saving and uploading video to the cloud. G-sensor detection can even trigger a “Mayday” notification if the driver becomes unresponsive.

Car drifting out of lane to demonstrate Cobra dash cam ADAS feature

Advanced Driver Assistance

An advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) uses your camera, GPS and inertial sensors to monitor your surroundings and alert you to speeding, lane departures, forward collisions, and obstacles ahead. Cobra’s SC smart dash cams come ADAS equipped so you can prevent accidents from happening in the first place.

Drive Smarter With the Latest in Dash Cam Technology

Dash cams are a modern essential that can help you defend against reckless and fraudulent drivers, keep insurance premiums low, and even prevent accidents and injuries. If someone hits your parked car, sideswipes you while changing lanes, or if you’re pulled over for a violation you didn’t commit, you have all the proof you need to expedite a claim and clear your driving record.

Learn more and find the best dash cam for you at www.cobra.com/dashcams.