We live in a world of cameras, found on everything from cellphones to elevators. So what about adding one to your car? Dashboard cameras are becoming more common in Canada and there are some very practical reasons to get one.

Safely mounted to your vehicle’s dashboard, these cameras record the view through your windshield. Law enforcement officers have used them for years and they have been helpful in many legal cases in both protecting the public and prosecuting offenders.

A quick search on YouTube will show countless dashcam videos from Russia. Their popularity stems from insurance, security, and policing issues in that country. But what about here in Canada? Should you buy a dashcam for your car?

One really good use for dashcams is recording car crashes. No one ever wants to experience one, but they do happen and in that moment of fear and reflex, it can be difficult to recall what happened. Eyewitnesses and accident victims may remember conflicting details or nothing at all. Enter the dashcam with its video recording of the crash.

There are a few legal and privacy issues to consider with using a dashcam (or any recording device for that matter). But under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), recording in public is permitted and nearly all roadways in Canada are considered public property.

Recording on private property can be sticky and if you are at an international border crossing, its best to switch the camera off. Border agents can deny you entry if they find you recording their questioning. And of course, a dashcam is an electronic device, so if you’re driving, don’t fiddle around with it – that can count as distracted driving and can get you a hefty fine or worse.

And of course, these cameras aren’t just for drivers. Many cyclists and motorcyclists are attaching cameras to the helmets and bikes to capture any potential danger or accident.

In our experience in working with accident and injury victims, we’re finding more and more that video footage is proving invaluable in showing what happened in a crash and who was at fault. You may never need it, but for a small investment, a properly mounted and properly used camera can have a big impact on determining the outcome of an accident claim.

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A “dashcam” or dashboard camera is a small camera wired into a car that begins recording as soon as the vehicle starts. With a built-in memory, the footage they record can easily be used to determine who is at fault in an accident. ICBC and the police are using dashcams to investigate accidents. But don’t think you’ll get a break on your insurance premiums by installing one. According to CTV News Vancouver, having a dashcam won’t mean a discount for ICBC customers.

But dashcam cameras can give drivers an added level of protection. They will assist ICBC in coming to the right conclusion. This will avoid an innocent motorist being unfairly penalized.

A dashcam recorded an August crash on the Pattullo Bridge that involved 30 vehicles. Police used this footage in their investigation. While the technology can help, it’s far from perfect. It only shows one point of view and has a limited range. The dashcam is a tool, not a foolproof solution.