Dashboard cameras are becoming increasingly popular due to their ability to ratify insurance claims and warrant arrests. Some drivers, however, may see them as an invasion of privacy or ‘electronic surveillance device”. These drivers believe they should be ‘outlawed’. But, what is the current law surrounding dash cameras?
Jeff Osborne, head of Gumtree Automotive says, “In general, you can record anything that happens on public roads legally. But, if you are recording audio of your private conversations with the people inside of the car, you should inform them that your dashcam is recording”.
Arrive Alive agrees with this sentiment saying, “Provided the video stayed with the car and was not transmitted elsewhere, dash cameras are perfectly legal”.
How a Dash Cam May Benefit You
In theory, having a camera ‘live’ while you are driving can help in multiple ways. Traffic officials will no longer need to call in witnesses to help convict road offenders. Claimants can have proof that they were not in the wrong during an accident, and / or can prove that they were hijacked, amongst an array of other types of situations.
They may also eliminate corruption in the traffic department, where traffic officers insist on “spot fines”. The driver will now have visual proof that they were, in fact, not in the wrong.
Eliminate “Crash For Cash” Scammers
One of the biggest benefits of a dash cam for insurance companies is the elimination of “crash for cash” scammers. These professional fraudsters construct collisions with innocent road users, in hopes of profiting from fraudulent insurance claims.
Osborne warns, though, that there are no guarantees that a case can be won based on dash cam video evidence.
“The biggest issue with any new technology is that the law needs to catch up to advances. As it stands, there is no law clarifying the validity or legality of dash cams in South Africa. The degree to which the video evidence will be allowed will depend on the discretion of the court and the individual insurance firms. The onus may well rest on the owner to prove that the footage has not been tampered with.”
Osborne also says that, even if the other party is at fault, and admits it, there is no guarantee of any form of payout.
“No one really gets wealthy from an accident I’m afraid,” he says.