Dash cams provide essential tool for police prosecution of dangerous driving

Dash cameras are considered a powerful tool for road safety by private drivers and law enforcement. According to the Automobile Association, twenty-four percent of their members own a dash camera, and eighteen percent are considering buying one.

The rules about use of dash cameras vary by country. In some, they are illegal and in some, they are absolutely essential. In Portugal, Luxembourg and Austria, dash cams are illegal due to privacy concerns, and drivers who are caught using dash cams in these countries, are heavily fined.

On the other hand, in Russia dash cams are considered essential due to police corruption and a high number of accidents. Dash cams are helpful for detecting who is at fault in a motor accident.

In Germany, a new law has been passed which allows dash cam footage to be used as evidence in the highest court. However, faces, license plates and any other personal details must be blurred due to privacy reasons.

Use of dash cams in the UK is legal and becoming more popular. Photos and videos from private dash cameras have even been co-opted by police to help them monitor road crimes. Operation Snap was launched in August 2019 by Northamptonshire Police to enable people to report driving offences that they have witnessed on the road.

Operation Snap enables the public to submit dash cam videos and photos via a simple online portal. In the first 12 months, over 600 were submitted, resulting in 300 Notice of Intended Prosecution letters being sent to registered owners.

The videos have recorded crossing double lines while overtaking vehicles, dangerous driving, ignoring traffic lights and carelessly driving around road users such as horse riders and cyclists.

After submission of material, the police have 14 days from when the offence is committed to take action. Police staff check the footage to ensure it falls within the scheme’s remit and contains clear views of offenders’ number plates so they can be identified.

The most common reason for a rejected submission is insufficient video evidence to support a prosecution.

Sofya Meshechkova
1 December 2020