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Is money wasted on a dash cam?

I bought a dash cam because I thought it would be useful in case I’m ever in an accident. Then I got it and realized that, because it’s too small to house a battery, it needs to be plugged into the USB port to be running. Which means I’d have to find a way to thread the cable from the port, under the glove compartment, up the passenger side, and to the dash cam on the rearview mirror.

Is it really worth it? Will it affect my car battery in any way? There is an option to only have it record when the car is moving, but that would mean it wouldn’t catch bumper damage if someone backed into me and just left…

I have three weeks left to return it. It cost me $75 and the micro SD was another $10.

Are air bags and seat belts worth the cost? If you never have an accident no, but the one time you do they are worth a fortune. Same with a dash cam. Hopefully you will never have the need to use it, but one day some idiot will cut you off, cause a crash and try to blame you. The physical evidence may lead to you being at fault, but the dash cam will prove otherwise. Are there other simpler ones you can get? If not deal with the one you have.

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Generally the power draw from the camera is very small and should have little effect on good battery. The drain may compromise a less than stellar battery, especially on a really cold day enough to need a jump.

If you are hit in a parking lot and the perp drives away, what is the real cost? I have comprehensive coverage on my car that has a deductible of $500. I have had no more than a door ding or 4 done to my cars in a parking lot in 41 years of driving. Even if I could identify the dinger and recover my costs, dings cost $75 to repair by a paintless dent guy.

As for issues while moving, THAT is a different story. If it proves your innocence for a ticket or the other’s culpability in a lawsuit it is money well spent. It could also prove your guilt if you are, indeed, guilty. Which do you think you’d be?

Your decision.

That’s the important question to consider. Steve Lehto is an attorney who writes columns in automotive publications, and he’s pointed out several times that a dash cam is a gift and a curse. It’s great if some jerk wrecks into you and then lies about it, but it’s pretty terrible if you cause the wreck and the dashcam leads to increased penalties/civil judgments against you.

He also points out that if you do cause a wreck, and you have a dashcam running, and you decide to delete the footage, you can be found guilty of destruction of evidence, which will compound your legal difficulties.

Another consideration is whether or not the dashcam records audio - in 2-party-consent states, if it records audio when you’re not in the car, you might be found to be in violation of wiretapping laws. So when you catch the jerk at the dealership joyriding in your car, and there’s audio of it, if he claims he wasn’t aware he was being recorded, you might invite trouble.

My dad was a lawyer, and if he were around today, he would never have a dashcam. The potential for trouble would, for him, outweigh the potential good it could do. Of course, dad always was pretty far into the “eliminate liability” camp - we never had a swimming pool growing up because he didn’t want the potential liability of some kid breaking into the yard and drowning in it, for instance. Not all lawyers are as cautious as he was regarding potential liability.


Seems like the older I get, the less I understand.

I’d include dash cameras, Go Pro cameras, and Facebook/social media in that bucket.

But to each his own.

I think the liability issue is an interesting take on it. You cannot assume you will always be in the right and the dash cam can be used against you. Also you may be hit from the back or side and the camera will do little good. One reason why we had short retention schedules for emails and then were destroyed. If documents are destroyed according to established retention schedules, they cannot be used against you. Of course in a computer nothing is ever totally destroyed and someone else may have a copy, but you get the idea.

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Yes, wiring it is the least of your problems. You can hack in the fuse box under the dash and find an unused fuse that is only on when the car is running and use that as the power source. That is what I have done for my wife’s car rear view camera/monitor and it has not drained the battery.

Now, as far as the legal part, this is tricky. I guess in Russia this is a big problem because most drivers are not following the rules and the police presence is not that great either.

In US, the odds of someone plowing into you when you have the green light is not that high, but still does happen. But it might also catch you flooring it on yellow or some other situation that might at least put you partially at fault.

Whether it’s worth it depends on how long it takes to get stolen. :wink:

Recently I started to leave my dash cam plugged in the cigarette lighter at all times. There is no excessive power draw; it has never given me any problems and the car is not driven daily.

You can get a USB adapter, for the powerpoint, no wiring needed. I have a gps I have left on for days accidentally no battery drain issues so I think the camera would be about the same. I make sure it is off when I park on the street, like a neon sign saying steal me I think. I have 2 powerpoints, one energized all the time, and one that shuts off power with ignition.

My thought was just looking for kicks to post to utube about idiot drivers but would be willing to contribute footage for accident documentation, including hopefully not my own.

For those with an interest in consent laws, here is a list of the basics for all 50 states:

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Those are phone calls, any video or pictures recorded in a public right of way by a dashboard camera or surveillance video are fair game without owners consent.

It’s not applicable to audio and video recording in public. You do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in a public place. Recording you is fair game. As a matter of fact, you are probably recorded a few dozen, maybe even hundreds of times each time you leave the house and go out in public.


That’s not the way I read the info on Maryland in that URL I posted. Admittedly, it is a quick take, but I need to see more on all party consent before I’m willing to believe that audio recording in public is legal.

Can’t answer that. Too many unknown variables. Everyone’s needs are different.

Not if you connect it properly. And don’t select the option that keeps it constantly energized.

Does this happen often in your neighborhood?

I’ve decided to return the dash cam for now, not worth the effort on a 10-year-old car worth $2,300.

My coworker also told me about Russia, though. How almost everyone has a dash cam.

Sensible choice.

I purchased my camera after a co-worker told us about an incident his wife had. She was stopped at a red traffic light when she was hit from behind. More a tap then a hit, but the car that hit hers did sustain a few scratches on its bumper and a busted headlight. According to her, the woman driver went ballistic and accused my co-worker’s wife of having her car roll backwards into the other car.

Police was call and unbeknownst to the other driver, my co-worker’s car was equipped with a forward looking camera. When the cop reviewed the video right there on the spot, it clearly showed that she was at a complete stop for several seconds before the car slight jerked forward from the hit.

The rest was a short conversation between cop and the other driver and everyone went on their merry way. $40 is not bad and a headache saved.

Those laws to NOT relate to dash-cams since you’re not recording the conversation. Anything you record can be used in a court of law here in NH or MA (even though they are one of the 11 states with the backward law of having both parties agree to being recorded).

It does apply where dash cams have a microphone and can record conversations. Recording conversations with a police officer at the window is one situation where the list would apply.