The coronavirus lockdown measures may be restricting most of our outings, but even with only occasional travel, a dash cam could offer valuable protection for your car.
So before you retire your dash cam to a cupboard, or put your plans to buy one on hold, there are a few ways that this tiny piece of kit could still be useful while we’re following the rules of minimal travel.
As well as recording your journeys – including details of accidents that aren’t your fault – some dash cams have a feature called ‘parking mode’ that could capture footage of someone damaging or attempting to steal your car while parked.
Below, we highlight three ways in which your dash cam could be handy during lockdown and look at whether now is a good time to invest in one.
Find out our top dash cam picks in our shortlist of the top five dash cams for 2020.
1 Capture footage of dangerous drivers
Quieter roads might be one of the few positive side effects of lockdown, but fewer cars and people on the roads also means fewer witnesses if there’s an incident.
If you are involved in an accident, having a dash cam that records all your journeys might just be your saving grace when it comes to making a claim.
The police are increasingly using dash cam footage as evidence in accidents. If you are involved in an accident that’s not your fault while driving, your dash cam can offer irrefutable proof of your innocence. Most dash cams record footage and audio so you’ll also be able to capture any audio exchanges between you and the offender, which might strengthen your claim.
Only the best dash cams have good sensitivity to audio and are able to record voices clearly. Take a look at our Best Buy dash cams to find the ones with great audio capture.
2 Protect your car while you’re parked
The only thing worse than an accident happening with no witnesses around, is one happening when you aren’t even around yourself as the car is parked.
Our survey in December 2018* showed that a parked car is more likely to be hit in a car park than anywhere else. Long supermarket queues as a result of social distancing could mean that your car is spending more time than usual parked in supermarket car parks. This may increase the chance of your car getting hit while it’s sitting quietly in its parking space.
One of the most useful dash cam features is parking mode. If the dash cam’s motion sensor senses that someone’s too close, or if its G-force sensor detects an impact while you’re parked, it starts recording and saves the footage. So if someone hits your car and drives off, you’ll have the footage to hand their details over to your insurer.
Bear in mind that not all dash cams have parking mode, so check our dash cams reviews to find one that does.
Should I leave my dash cam in my car while it’s parked near my house?
While leaving your dash cam in your car permanently means that you may reap the benefits of parking mode, if your dash cam has this feature, it could also increase the risk of the dash cam itself being stolen.
As with most electrical items, the best advice to avoid the risk of theft is not to leave anything visible that’s of value in your car.
If your dash cam is mounted properly (behind the rear view mirror to avoid it obstructing your view), it may not be that obvious, but you may still prefer to remove it each time you leave the car.
Our guide on how to install a dash cam outlines how to make sure it fits discreetly into your car.
3 Save money on your insurance premium
Several big-name insurers offer discounts on car insurance if you have a dash cam. Axa, for example, offers 10% off your premium and its subsidiary Swiftcover offers 12.5% off for new customers. Head to our guide on car insurance for dash cam owners to find out which other insurers will give you a discount.
A number of insurers partner with dash cam brands such as Nextbase, which usually means you will only be eligible for the discount if you use one of their partner’s products. Check the policy before you sign on the dotted line.
If you are tied to a specific dash cam brand to qualify for the discount, read our dash cam reviews to see if models from that brand will give you the clear, reliable footage that you need.
Is now the right time to buy a new dash cam?
A new dash cam might have been low on your list of things to buy during lockdown, but with some retailers offering discounts to entice customers, you may be able to bag a bargain.
Discounted dash cams
Here are some of the dash cams that are on offer at Halfords.
Halfords HDC300 (was £99, now £48)
Part of Halfords’ first range of dash cams, the HDC300 is one of the more advanced in its line. It comes packed with features, including GPS tracking to show your location on journeys and wi-fi so that you can wirelessly transfer footage to your smartphone or tablet.
It captures footage in Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) and has a large 2.9-inch display, so you can easily watch recordings directly on the device.
To find out how good its footage quality is, read our Halfords HDC300 review.
Nextbase 422GW (was £129, now £96)
One of the best-known brands in the dash cam market, Nextbase’s 422GW is a high-spec model from its most recent ‘Series 2’ range. It’s not shy about offering extras, including GPS and wi-fi, and also has a built-in Alexa feature that allows you control your dash cam with your voice.
It records in Quad HD (2,560 x 1,440 pixels) – a step up from the Full HD most dash cams use – and has a well-sized 2.5-inch display to watch your footage.
To see whether its recording quality matches its specs, read our Nextbase 422GW review.
Garmin Dash Cam 56 (was £149, now £129)
One of Garmin’s recent dash cam launches, the Dash Cam 56 is a pricey but feature-heavy model that records in Quad HD.
It also has built-in Bluetooth for transferring footage to your smartphone or tablet and a voice assistant so you can operate it hands-free. Its display size is a reasonable 2 inches.
Head to our Garmin Dash Cam 56 review to read our verdict on whether it’s one to buy.
*Online survey: In December 2018, we surved 1,491 Which? members, of whom 550 owned cars that had been hit while parked.