Dash cams have gone from being one of the products you find hidden at the back of electronics stores – buried behind obscure cables and door bells – to a popular car accessory.
Though just a few years ago a tiny number of motorists used these cameras, which record the road in front of the car as you drive, they have mushroomed in popularity following the advent of 'crash-for-cash' scams on the road. These scams can see criminals swerve in front of innocent drivers and slam on the brakes, causing the car behind to crash into them.
The criminals then make fraudulent personal injury claims on the unsuspecting motorists' insurance, potentially extorting thousands of pounds in the process. Dash cams, however, are a simple defence against this type of 'crash-for-cash' ploy, so we've tested one popular model to see what you can expect from this in-car gadget.
At less than £130 online the NextBase 402G we tested slots between budget models, which can be bought from under £15 (though these can offer very poor image quality, especially in darker conditions) and sophisticated versions that can cost over £300. Despite the mid-range price, this model features full HD recording, GPS logging (meaning that in the event of an accident, you can prove the time and location) and motion detection, where the dash cam automatically records moments of high G-forces (such as a collision or heavy braking) and prevents these from being overwritten.
Using the camera is a simple as setting up a sat nav. Simply plug the power cable into the 12V power supply in your car and mount the camera's sat-nav-style suction pad to the windscreen. The camera should automatically start recording providing a view of the road ahead of the car, overwriting the oldest footage should the memory card fill up.
Should you be involved with a crash this should provide evidence to prove exactly what happened, meaning that even if another driver admitted blame for an accident and then changed their story afterwards, you can show the true story. As for the quality you can expect, the NextBase 402G provides good quality footage in daylight. Number plates are mostly easily legible on recorded footage and the camera captures a wide view of the road. Quality drops dramatically at night, but this dash cam still performs better than most rivals – even those which cost twice as much.
Another bonus of using a dash cam is that some insurers will give you a discount of up to 15 per cent on your car insurance. The only real downside to the NextBase we tested, apart from having to splash out for it in the first place, is that it can slightly obscure your view of the road, with the power cable dangling down, unless you spend time carefully routing it around the windscreen.
If you're after a relatively inexpensive dash cam, this model offers strong image quality which beats some models which cost twice as much. It includes useful features such as GPS location tracking and motion detection and is less intrusive than some rival models. For those happy to spend around £130 – or potentially less, if you shop around – the NextBase 402G is definitely worth a look.