While there are any amount of apps and gadgets on the market to make a courier's life easier, there's one that no professional driver should be without these days: the dashboard video camera – colloquially known as the 'dash cam'. |
An Investment Worth Considering
Around three million motorists in the UK are estimated to have installed dash cams, with those used for commercial applications making up the majority of that number. When you consider the benefits of having irrefutable video proof of incidents and accidents on the roads, as an owner driver, it's more a question of "why wouldn't you?"
The primary purpose of the dash cam is to act as an eyewitness to what's happening on the road in front of (and beside and even behind) you. Being able to prove you aren't at fault in an accident can mean the difference between being held unfairly accountable for something and being protected from unwarranted liability and potentially crippling financial ramifications – even if blame is split between two parties.
Lower Insurance Premiums
Insurance companies now accept footage from dash cams as proof of both liability and innocence. What this means is a reduction in fraudulent or ambiguous claims and, in turn, ensures that your insurance premiums and excesses do not go up due to an "at blame" claim. In fact, some insurance companies offer discounted rates (up to 10-15%) for commercial drivers who install a dash cam. (Although be aware there are often conditions attached and it may only be in conjunction with a particular electronic brand.)
Reduce Damage and Theft
Another major benefit of installing a dashboard-mounted camera is to deter would-be vandals and thieves, or at the very least be able to identify the culprits should the worst occur. Some high-end models can be set to record both audio and video even when the vehicle is unattended and turned off, so you'll have a clear picture of what goes on in and around your van even when you're not there.
While it might sound a little strange, installing a dashboard camera can actually make you a better driver. If you take the time to review some footage of your driving behaviour you may pick up elements you weren't aware of – such as the tendency to brake too hard or switch lanes too quickly. This test is only for you, so be honest and learn from your mistakes.
You Get What You Pay For
As with any digital technology, you get what you pay for with cheaper versions of the dash cam. If you're an owner driver out on the road every day, it's well worth investing in a professional, commercial grade model. Features to look for include memory card capacity, operating temperature range, tamper-proofness, and general reliability. The better versions use a capacitator instead of a battery, which means they'll last a lot longer and it's also a good idea to go for one with a polarising filter to minimise reflections. You'll pay a little more for the quality, but you won't risk it breaking down after a few weeks and missing out on vital camera footage you may be relying on.
The Eyes Have It
While many fleet vehicles have dash cams installed as a matter of course, for the self-employed owner driver they're an even more valuable accessory. When you're out on the road on your own, all day every day, there's a certain peace of mind in knowing there's an extra pair of eyes looking out for you…
Norman Dulwich is a correspondent for Courier Exchange, the world's largest neutral trading hub for same day owner driver jobs in the express freight exchange industry. Over 4,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.
Related Articles -