Onus of proof

Dashcam-style devices now provide must-have backup evidence in insurance and court cases. And sophisticated new aftermarket technology offers features even OE manufacturers can’t yet offer.

Shock-horror dashcam footage of gobsmacking, let’s face it, often-Russian traffic misdemeanours are a staple of social media and YouTube. And, yes, the unfolding mayhem’s also entertaining in a way that often makes Hollywood’s best efforts look tame.

However, such footage also is symptomatic of a shift in accountability that partly owes more to the literary Big Brother than the bogan-friendly reality TV series of the same name.

Increasingly sophisticated dashcam – or Digital Drive Recorder – devices have come into their own as overworked police back away from attending traffic accidents other than those involving injuries. Yet insurance companies demand increasingly more detailed accident reports. It’s a conundrum bordering on farce.

Thankfully, there’s driver-friendly help at hand – although for now, at least, it’s only available aftermarket.

Sat-nav giant Navman’s latest range of dashcam – or Digital Drive Recording – devices brings sophisticated video recording and playback functionality – and back-up assurance – with bonus driver safety aids. And while some of those driver safety aids already are available as standard or optional equipment in a swag of vehicles already on the market, increasingly important dashcam-style systems are not.

“There aren’t any OE sat-nav systems I’m aware of that also offer dashcam at the moment,” Wendy Hammond, country director, Navman Australia & New Zealand, told Delivery. “However, because they’re becoming an increasingly important insurance requirement, I’m sure they will be.”

Importantly, Wendy Hammond says, because it is geostamped, timed and dated dashcam-style video data has become admissible as evidence in court hearings.

“We’re world leaders in this area, and I know that our parent company, MiTAC International, is talking with car manufacturers in Europe at the moment. It will come.

“Sales of our dashcam systems have picked up big time, and we’re expecting a 45 percent increase next year,” Wendy Hammond said. “We’re actually sitting at about 60 percent at the moment because people are beginning to understand the benefits of the product.”

Wendy Hammond was speaking at the
Sydney launch of Navman’s extensive new range of satellite-navigation and
dashcam-style devices. Rather than simply talk the talk, though, she’d organised demonstration drives in a controlled environment with instructors from Queensland-based advanced and defensive driving instruction company, Safe Drive Training, at the wheel of soon-for-extinction Ford Falcons.

With the accent squarely on the safety features inherent in the new range of dashcam-style devices, the demonstration runs highlighted features such as Lane Departure Warning, Front Collision Warning, Driver Fatigue and Speed Limit Alerts – most of which are available as standard or optional equipment in most new vehicles. However, the really interesting part of the demos was how those new safety features are integrated with the event-recording capabilities of Navman’s dashcam-style devices.

Using mind-boggling algorithms linked with G-sensors, the range-topping dual-camera MiVue 698 device in the demonstration lead Falcon was put through its paces in a series of 80 km/h emergency stops, simulated tailgating incidents, through a slalom, and even in a – let’s just say highly animated – fake road rage incident requiring a gut-wrenching J-turn and simulated chase. All good fun, of course, but informative nevertheless.

However, though not nearly as much
fun, the really informative part of the day happened when the video data from the demonstration drives was transferred via micro SD to computer.
That’s where the invaluable analytical abilities of the recorded video data really kick in and you begin to understand why insurance companies – and in extreme cases, their legal teams – love dashcams.

In the Falcon, one camera was mounted E-tag-style at the top of the windscreen and trained on the view up ahead. The second camera was similarly mounted on the rear ’screen to monitor events behind the car (alternatively, if required, the second camera can be positioned in-cabin to monitor driver behaviour).

By touching a camera logo on the front-view camera, the driver also has the ability to video the behaviour of dodgy other drivers, either while they’re driving erratically or even when they’re staggering towards their parked vehicle, unhinged and/or obviously over-the-limit, and potentially about to, say, back into your vehicle.

Using the included Windows- and Apple OS-friendly Navman MiVue software, the multiple event folders called up on the large computer-linked flatscreen for the purposes of the demonstration left little to the imagination. Especially since the MiVue 698’s cameras both record in industry benchmark MP4 format – the front camera at full HD 2304 x 1296p resolution, the rear at still-impressive 1920 x 1080p.

Triggered by its integrated G sensors, the MiVue 698’s footage showed in fine detail the emergency braking, simulated crashes, front-collision warnings, tailgating nasties – in short, all the incidents you’d want, and need, recorded if, dare we say, push came to shove in an insurance or court setting.

Once you’ve got the hang of how to toggle between the various recorded video folders, the dashcam footage available to you definitely becomes a powerful and virtually bulletproof legal tool should you need to use it.

Like others in the new Navman dashcam range, the front camera itself can be removed from its bracket and taken out the vehicle, allowing you to video post-incident events, vehicle damage, road rage insanity and the like.

Navman’s seven-model new range of dashcam-style devices starts at $159 RRP and tops out at $429 RRP for the bells-and-whistles dual-camera MiVue 698. All of which represents relatively cheap insurance when you think about the depth of features on offer.
Additionally, Navman’s new six-model range of touchscreen GPS devices brings lifetime map updates, 3D junction and landmark views, spoken street names, Navman’s Smart Find™ keyword search and so much more. The range starts with the Move70LM at under $150 RRP. Step up to the next-level Ezy 350LMT model with live traffic updates, Bluetooth handsfree, digital logbook, spoken safety alerts and more, and you’re looking at $179 RRP.

The range continues to step up through an expansive list of impressive hi-tech GPS-related features until it reaches the best-of-both-worlds MiVue Drive FHD unit, which at $299 RRP incorporates all the technical features of the other units in the range together with a dashcam recorder and 16GB micro SD card.
And, yes, Navman’s Wendy Hammond has indicated that fleet discounts are available.

Perhaps you’ve already guessed Wendy Hammond’s Delivery-specific easy tip for users of Navman’s new dashcams. If not, here it is in her own words: “Once the user has made a delivery they can remove the camera from its mount to take a photograph and geocode the product, to show that they’ve actually fulfilled the delivery requirement.”

Simple as that.

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