Could dash cams prevent crashes and save lives on Kiwi roads?
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Improved dash-cam technology is helping police investigate dangerous driving on New Zealand roads - and police and insurers hope the devices can be used to prevent crashes.
National road policing manager Steve Greally said police had noticed dash cams were becoming more popular, which was good because footage helped them investigate dangerous driving more thoroughly.
"It can show weather conditions. It can show road markings - everything that the investigator would need to investigate properly.
"We just want to be able to hold people to account and prevent those poor behaviours in the first place, so taking idiots off the road is our first priority."
Although police received many complaints of poor driving every day, it was often only witnessed by one person and dash cam footage could corroborate or disprove allegations.
"It can capture what actually happened. Quite often police can find them posted on our Facebook sites as an example of what's actually going on out on our roads."
The resolution of the camera was important, he said, as it was difficult to identify people when images were highly pixelated.
Jonathan Killick, a spokesman for New Zealand-founded vehicle technology company Navman, said the devices had "surged" in use in the past two years.
Newer models on the market could now record in high definition, and some, including Navman's MiVUE 850 DC, offered rearview cameras, which were particularly useful when people were rear-ended.
Many of the latest Navman cameras were also Wi-Fi connectable and synced with users' smartphones, meaning they could upload footage to social media in minutes, Killick said.
Greally told the Herald on Sunday he hoped dash-cam footage could be used to educate the public about the potential consequences of dangerous driving.
"Some of the stories on our roads are really shocking when you hear about them, but when you see them it's even worse. You see someone do something and you see the cause and effect."
But unfortunately some people would never learn and would keep taking risks, so Greally said people who were concerned about others' driving and had footage should show it to police.
Although members of the Insurance Council of New Zealand said it was rare for Kiwis to submit dash-cam footage along with their claims, they'd usually consider it as evidence if it was provided and said it would be helpful to determine who was at fault if there was a dispute.
The council's chief executive Tim Grafton added some insurers supported the use of windscreen-mounted cameras triggered by G-force movement in heavy commercial vehicles and sometimes gave businesses that invested in the devices a discount on their excess.
However, insurers encouraged trucking companies to use the cameras to prevent crashes by coaching drivers after a near miss was captured rather than waiting until they crashed to work out what went wrong.
"Insurers' experience is that a driver will have many near misses which an area will record before they finally have an accident," Grafton said.
- Herald on Sunday