The number of British motorists fitting dash cams to their cars has soared in recent years as drivers look to protect themselves against insurance scams and improve their driving.
According to data from retail analyst GfK, sales of the in-car cameras have soared by 600 per cent in the last three years and further research by Halfords has found 16 per cent of drivers now use a dash cam.
A third (32 per cent) of those questioned by the motoring retailer said that fitting a dash cam made them feel safer. More than a quarter (28 per cent) also believed that having one would improve their driving performance.
Nearly a third (29 per cent) of drivers said their main reason for fitted one was to keep their insurance costs down.
Crash-for-cash insurance scams, where drivers deliberately cause accidents to make injury claims, have made headlines in recent years. According to industry data, as many as one in 10 personal injury claims is linked to suspected scams and the Insurance Fraud Bureau estimates crash-for-cash fraud costs nearly Â£340 million a year. It has become such an issue that the Government is reviewing how compensation for whiplash is calculated.
In response drivers have fitted dash cams to protect themselves against fraudulent claims and many insurers encourage their customers to fit them to help settle or dismiss claims quickly. Several mainstream insurers even offer discounts to drivers who use a dash cam, in the belief that those recording their journeys are more likely to drive safely.
Daniel Tomson, Halfordsâ€™s car technology expert says: â€œWeâ€™ve seen a massive increase in the sale of dash cams. A big leap in technology has now put them within reach of most budgets and its one key motoring trend that shows no signs of slowing down.
â€œNot only do they help guard against dangerous drivers and â€˜crash for cashâ€™ scams, they can even help protect your no claims bonus. Having one will soon become as standard as wearing a seat belt.â€
While they are becoming more commonplace and some insurers are encouraging their use, some motoring experts have warned against becoming reliant on them.
Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, cautioned: â€œA dash cam isnâ€™t the be-all and end-all. People need to realise they must improve their own standards of driving as well as expecting others to do the same.
â€œWe at IAM RoadSmart are very concerned that drivers might be investing in a dash cam as a substitute for better driving, instead of using it as a back-up.
â€œIn many ways a dash cam is the end of the line; real accident prevention requires better driver training and tackling ingrained attitudes and behaviours.â€
IAM Roadsmart has also called for official guidance on the use of dash cam footage as evidence.
Greig added: Â â€IAM RoadSmart is calling for consistent national guidelines on the standard of dash cam footage required for prosecutions, what the police will do with it and how to submit it in the correct way. Our members are very supportive of high profile policing but it takes time for police to evaluate the footage, decide what to follow up, trace the driver, serve paperwork and then obtain a successful prosecution within legal time limits. Our main concern is that dash cams must not become a replacement for fully trained officer undertaking high profile roads policing.