What is a dash cam and how does it work?
A dash cam, or dashboard camera, is a camera that is attached to your car’s dashboard or windshield, usually with a suction mount. It is connected to the cigarette lighter power, so it is automatically turned on when you switch on the engine, and turned off a few seconds after you switch the engine off. As soon as it is on, it records what it sees on a memory card that is inside. When the card is full, it starts recording from the beginning, thus erasing the oldest files.
If you need to check something that was recorded, you can play the video on the device itself. However the display is usually small, so a better solution is to take out the memory card, insert it in a computer and play the video files on the computer. Or you can also take the camera out of the car and connect it to a computer with a USB cable.
Why should I buy a dash cam?
1. In case you are involved in an accident or any kind of incident, you can use the recorded video as a proof. In Thailand it is particularly useful, because in some cases the foreigner is always blamed! So if you can show the police some proof (well, that’s assuming you were not in the wrong in the first place!), it will make your situation much better.
2. In case you witness an accident or a road rage incident, you have a piece of evidence. It is of course up to you to decide what you are going to do with it.
3. If you get stopped by the police and they want to extort money from you for the wrong reasons, you also have a proof of what is going on. Sometimes the dash cam itself can be dissuasive enough.
4. On the funny side, with a dash cam you can capture anything weird or shocking happening on Thai roads, like erratic driving, overloaded trucks, kids driving motorcycles…
5. If someone else happens to drive your car, you can check what was recorded and know exactly where the car was driven and what was said inside the car.
6. I’m not aware of insurance fraud cases in Thailand (you know when people jump in front of your car and claim you have run them over), but if it ever happens, you will be happy to have it recorded.
What specifications should I look for when buying a dash cam?
Make sure your dash cam records the sound (some very cheap models don’t), has night vision, a wide angle and a resolution of at least 720p. The memory card should be at least 32 Mb (64 recommended), but you can buy one separately. Some advanced options include GPS, Wifi and dual channel (which means the dash cam can record what’s happening in front of you, but also behind or inside the car).
What models would you advise me to buy?
Here is a selection of dash cams that can be bought on Amazon and shipped to Thailand.