If you drive, chances are exceedingly good that (at some point) you’re going to be involved in a motor vehicle accident. Even if you are a brilliant driver, with the reflexes of a mongoose, who anticipates every other amoeba on the road, you’ll be staring down the barrel of a friendly parking lot fender bender (or high speed pile-up) sooner or later. When that time comes, you’ll want the indisputable testimony of a reliable witness on your side. You’ll need video. You’ll need a dashboard camera, or dash cam.
There are several dash cam options on the market, from reputable manufacturers no less. But before you go running off to buy one, take a moment and think: when was the last time you saw someone with a GPS module mounted on their dashboard? … Having trouble remembering? That’s because, nowadays, people use their phones to navigate via GPS. ‘See where we’re going with this?
Most everybody has an old smartphone lying dormant in a forgotten drawer somewhere. Dust it off, get it going and download yourself a dash cam app (also referred to a ‘black box’ app) for free! Mount your device in your car, where its camera has a view of as much of the road ahead as possible and – voilá! – instant dash cam!
Of course, it’s not entirely that easy. You’ve got to mount the phone securely, so it doesn’t go twanging around the interior every time you execute a left turn. It needs power (because Murphy says it’ll run out of battery seconds before a Boeing 747 cuts you off) so run a charger cable to it. Use some sticky tape or something similar to secure the cable out of your way so you don’t pull your new cam off the dash every time you shift into second. Tweak your video settings to get the maximum recording time out of your device without reducing the footage to unintelligible pixels. Boost its memory with an SD card if you have to.
Some store-bought dash cams are very non-descript. A smartphone stuck to the inside of your windshield is anything but. It could be a massive temptation for thieves – even if it is last year’s model. Take it with you when you exit the vehicle. This will help negate the negative effects of leaving your device exposed to the South African sun and heat (and skollies).
Don’t – repeat, don’t! – use your current phone for your dash cam, in case the temptation to text-and-drive (or worse – Fast and Furious-selfie) is too great.
Who knows? You might become an overnight internet sensation, with footage of your neighbour being dragged behind his overzealous German Shepherd, practically water skiing across your driveway.