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Dash Cams. Yes or No?

As the saying goes, there are two sides to every story.

While that’s no doubt true, it’s a whole lot easier to determine blame when you have concrete physical evidence. Case in point: Dash cams, which have been rising in popularity throughout the industry. Fed-up truckers are using them to prevent job loss or other costly hits to their reputations and driving records, while fleet owners are installing them to protect their business interests, lower insurance costs, and to also keep tabs on their drivers’ habits.

Still, not everyone is on board with having dash cams on board. Some find them just another case of Big Brother – intrusive and unnecessary – particularly when it comes to companies installing them fleet-wide or making them mandatory. Here are some things to consider before recording everything you or your drivers see and do on the road.

The Pros

The good news is that a dash cam records everything while you drive (see below for the bad news). Dash cams, which are mounted on your dashboard or windshield, virtually eliminate the “your word against mine” mentality, because they provide video footage that can be used as evidence if you or your drivers have a crash, altercation, or other incident on or off the road.

In numerous instances, dash cam footage has helped to exonerate drivers who were accused of driving recklessly or dangerously. Many truckers have turned to them because they say there’s a widely-accepted bias that trucks are to blame when crashes and other incidents occur (then there’s the issue of attempted insurance scams and flat-out false accusations).

Meanwhile, for carriers using driver risk management systems that incorporate rear-facing cameras, dash cams can help to identify or correct bad habits – say, if a driver takes their eyes off the road to fiddle too much with their radio or phone. Potentially dangerous situations can be averted, as well: Alerts can be sent to drivers through an on-board system accessed remotely from a web portal.

And on the other hand…

The bad news is that a dash cam records everything while you drive. We’ve all seen the YouTube videos depicting fiery crashes and rogue trucks overturning, engaged in serious road rage, or pushing cars hundreds of feet down highways. While some of these are taken by bystanders, many are also seen from the perspective of the truck. So while they can get you off the hook, they can also incriminate you, as well.

And then there’s the privacy issue. With rear-facing cameras in particular, drivers have expressed concern and outrage that carriers are simply looking to micromanage and spy on them.

Interested? What to Look For

There are dozens of options on the market, from simple to complex. Many agree that high-definition recording and wide-angle lenses are a must: A grainy video isn’t going to do you any good, nor is one that only captures some of what happened. Sensors that trigger the device to automatically record when you brake fast or swerve are also crucial – again, because having no video to document the event isn’t going to help you at all.

Others, meanwhile, incorporate built-in GPS functions, microphones and instant playback screens, while a few are sophisticated, multi-camera surveillance and safety systems.

As with anything, it all comes down to your needs (and, of course, your budget, too).

Do you have a preference? Are you for or against dash cams? Comment below!