In the event of an incident, a dash cam has the potential to be the only factual, unbiased record of what has or has not truly occurred. So in the "should you or should you not" debate on rideshare dash cams, the answer is: Yes, you should get one.
That being said, before you commence the dash cam buying process it is important to stay on the right side of the law. Therefore, you should thoroughly research the specific laws regarding the presence and use of recording devices both inside and in the vicinity of your rideshare vehicle in the state in which you choose to operate.
What to Look for in a Dash Cam
Dash cams are not all created equal. We have identified five key features to keep in mind when you start looking into purchasing one.
1. Video Quality
It is the most important feature of a dash cam. In the event of an incident, you want your dash cam to provide indisputable evidence of what has occurred and the would-be perpetrators.
It is recommended that your dash cam records FHD (full high definition;1080p) video. Dual camera dash cams tend not to have similar video recording quality. The recommendation for the back-facing camera video quality is at least HD (high definition; 720p).
When talking about video quality, one must also consider the field of view (FOV). FOV refers to the observable open area a person can see through his or her eyes or via an optical device. The recommendation is a minimum of a 150-degrees.
2. Front-facing vs. Two-way Camera
Dash cams come with either one camera that faces out or two cameras. One faces out and the other in.
Two-way dash cams are preferred as they keep both the drivers and passengers safe while also keeping an eye on the external environment.
3. Storage Capacity
Storage capacity is extremely important to consider if you spend a lot of time in your vehicle.
Most dash cams come with a MicroSD card for storage of recorded footage. The most popular storage capacity is 32GB. The dash cam you buy will most like come with only an 8GB or 16GB card. To begin with, this is not a bad size. Especially if you are new to ridesharing. Use it in the beginning and change it as needed based on time spent in your vehicle.
When talking about storage capacity, one must also consider loop recording. Loop recording is the process of recording audio continuously. This feature saves you from having to constantly remove the memory card to delete old recorded footage.
How long you can keep your ride share footage is important because not all incidents are reported immediately or promptly.
4. Audio Recording Capability
Words can bring down titans. Travis Kalanick knows this all too well. As a rideshare driver, it is no longer sufficient to have just visual proof. Audio is equally important. It will ensure you do not get caught up in an I said/they said affair.
A dash cam with a mute option for audio is a definite plus and something to look out for.
This option allows you to turn off recording as needed.
5. Mounting Options
Mounting options include the dashboard, windshield or over the rearview mirror
While the dashboard may seem the most obvious location you must consider the following:
- Whether the dash cam works with the design of your vehicle.
- How the location of the dash cam impacts your driving.
- How often you would need to remove it.
- What you already have on your dashboard (ex. GPS, phone).
- How visible it is to would-be thieves.
- Whether the location is in an area where the wipers keep the windshield clear (forward facing cameras) in case of poor weather (rain, snow, ice, etc.)
Dash Cam Options
Following are three different dash cams you can look into purchasing.
1. Falcon F360+ Dual Lens Dashcam
This is a two-way dash cam. It is currently on sale on Amazon for $150 (usually $ 250). It checks all the feature boxes listed above. It's easy to see why it is priced the way it is.
Some of its key features include:
- Two dual HD cameras that can swivel 180 degrees each and have a combined FOV of 240 degrees.
- Comes standard with a 32GB Class 10 UHS1 SD card and loop recording in three, five or ten-minute loops or continuous recording options.
Two areas of concern that should be noted deal with night vision and audio.
Night vision capability. Night time infrared lights are not sufficient. Passengers need to either lean into the camera or be illuminated by either an external (street light) or internal (interior lights) light source.
Audio: While decent can be drowned out by road noise when driving at highway speeds.
2. Falcon Zero F170HD
This is a front facing camera only. It comes in two versions. The Falcon Zero F170HD Dash Cam DVR and the Falcon Zero F170HD+ GPS Dash Cam. Both are available on Amazon at $120 and $100 (sale price) respectively.
The Falcon Zero F170HD+ is the go-to choice as it has all the relevant bells and whistles plus upgraded features. The motion detection recording when parked is a nice to have feature.
The downside is that it only has one front facing camera.
3. HD 1080p Car DVR Vehicle Camera Gs8000l
This camera fits comfortably into most budgets coming in at around $25. However, with technology, you do get what you pay for.
This dash cam is highly generic. It purchased from the main manufacture and is sold by different companies who barely add any distinguishing features.
For a rideshare driver, this dash cam would most likely act as a deterrent more than anything else. As we all know though when one is powered by alcohol or say drugs, for instance, there is little that can deter "bad behavior."
If you have to buy it, we suggest it be replaced sooner rather than later.