Having a dashcam is very important but take care on what you buy

| In Articles | 4th May 2020

You might think that any dashcam will do the job, but this is not entirely true. Not all dashcams can read a registration number of a car in move on low light conditions. There are o lot of cheap car video cameras on the market around for a couple of pounds, and they will work well as long as they have a very good light, but this is mostly only during daytime and not at night.

If you will be part of a road incident after sunset, your cheap dashcam might not be able to read the registration number of an another vehicle involved into the incident, only maybe if is a static object and you are not moving, plus you have a lot of artificial light from the road or your lights. In most situations the other vehicle will be on-the-move (and not even stop after hits you), your vehicle will be on-the-move, and the artificial light will be low.

You might think...no problem dude..I have a dashcam - front and rear camera and I will get you. But you stop the car, check the video, ..or you simple let the check to do at home, and you realize that the image is wiped, registration number of the guilty driver is unclear and there is nothing you can do. You call the police to complain about the incident, register the case and let them check the road cameras they have, based on your descriptions, the time of the incident you will have to make a note about, and maybe there will be more changes to catch the hit-and-run driver.

The problem is that, road cameras, during night time have the same problems as any other cameras that film at night. Image quality will be low if there is not enough light.

Only if it is a speed camera, that has a very powerful flash to light the car and the registration number, any other cameras, that are installed only to give an image of what is happening on the road, will not provide too many details. Not saying that their position can be too far away from where the incident happened. It is all about luck.

So you realize, after one of this type of events, that the police will not do too much and it will take months for them to return to you, you will not have any clear evidence about what happened and who the guilty person is and all will be left to do for you in this moment will be to fix your car, thru the insurance company, based on the police report to show that it was not your fault. In this way, you will be affected no claim bonus points and you will not pay for the damage except the excess you choose to pay when you set up your car insurance.

But all this situation will give you a bad taste and you will think that if you had a good dashcam to properly record the incident, you will be able to give more details and footage to the police who will be able to find the guilty driver and punish him/her.

And you start to do your research about what is the best dashcam.

The problem is, you might do this research after the incident happens as I did.

This is the reason why, I am writing this article. To help you think on what are the risks if you don't have a good dashcam, and prepare for anything can happen, before will happen.

I was in the exact situation I am talking about.

My experience with different dashcams

It happened in London. It was 16:25, and on a not very busy road. At this time of the day, being in winter, you was still able to see outside without a light but it was very close to getting dark.

My car was stopped on the red light, on the first lane. On my right, on an another lane, another car was stopped. Between our cars it was some space but not too much as the road didn't allow more.

While waiting, a scooter from the back, with 2 passengers, came between our cars. See bellow from the attached image (from my rear camera) how they look like and how much details I was able to see and send to the police. The car behind me was not moving. This is the reason its registration number is still readable, but the scooter was on the move and quite fast as they were heading in front of the other cars, on the first line, where is an allocated space for mopeds to wait for the green light.

Dashcam rear camera image from video

While going along my car they hit the mirror (which overturned), lost their balance and fell on the car front fender . I realized later that they bent the metal where the scooter hit the car and it was exactly on the bend of the fender where the only cheap solution to fix it will be to fill the space and paint over, or completely replace it. They also did some small scratches.

registration number not clear as scooter was in move in low light condition
Dashcam front camera image from video

They put the scooter on a vertical position and left in speed as the green light just appeared.

I looked at them, they looked at me and I made a sign to them to go on the side of the road to talk about what had happened but I was not able to do more than that because they left.

I took the phone number from the driver next to me who saw everything, to be witness...but this didn't help too much too, because I couldn't blame anyone, not having any good footage.

I've done a complaint to the police who said that will check the cameras from the intersection. There were a few cameras providing images of the traffic. The police came very fast after me when they saw what happened and I was able to give more details there.

I have been told that I will be contacted later with more details. All I've done, later on, at home, was to provide the footage I had and the details I knew, to the police portal for this type of incidents. But nobody came back to me even after 4 months.

In this time, I changed the insurance company and I didn't fix the car because I didn't get any support from the police. Not even a report of what happened, as I was told it would be.

After this incident, I returned the mirror dashcam I had installed, which was not really cheap (AUTO-VOX X1 9.88" Mirror Dash Cam Stream Media 1296P Dual Dash Cam AHD Reversing Camera Kit Front and Rear Dash Cam with Night Vision, Parking Mode, G-Sensor, LDWS, GPS) - price when I got it £ 169.

After it I got another one Mirror Dash Cam with Sony IMX Sensor Night Vision, Dash Cameras Front and Rear, Reversing Camera & 9.35 inch Laminated and Anti-glare Touch Display, 1080P Dual Dash Cam, RHD Design for UK, BOSCAM R2 but the image was not satisfactory (see below)

registration number not visible from dashcam footage
Registration number not visible
dashcam image of car running
Registration number not visible again

I had to return the second dashcam and try a new one. Thanks to Amazon.co.uk and its amazing services.

I did some more research and even if I was really keen to have a mirror dashcam (it was looking nice and the image I was able to see it was about 9-10in) I had to choose something different third time based on a lot of other people were saying.

The third dashcam was and still is (because I kept it) Nextbase 522GW - Series 2 Car Dash Camera - Full 1440p/30fps HD Recording DVR Cam - Front Recording - 140° Wide Viewing Angle - Wi-Fi and Bluetooth - Built-in Alexa - GPS

The quality is the best between these 3 dashcams I used. Still not perfect (on low light no camera will be good enough) and even the most professional ones will have difficulties on reading text from object in moving, as a car registration number, but good enough to give more hope in case of a similar incident.