Leading South Essex road traffic lawyer gives his verdict on dash cams

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One of South Essex’s leading solicitors specialising in road traffic offences has given his verdict on the dash cam phenomenon, after the AA suggested that restrictions on their use might be necessary.

Jeremy Sirrell, a Partner at Palmers Solicitors, said: “It might be thought that calls to regulate such use are really calls to try and control what is otherwise a perfectly reasonable and lawful activity for the sake of good taste.”

“It is quite clear that, although only a minority of drivers have dash cams, they are an increasingly large minority and that dash cams can provide useful evidence in the event of a collision where there is a dispute. Indeed, where there is illegal or dangerous driving they may provide useful evidence to the police as part of a proper investigation.”

His comments come after Sir Edmund King, the President of the AA, said that there can be an “element of voyeurism” in their use.

Jeremy Sirrell said: “We live an increasingly crowded world and never more so than on our roads. It is a very lucky driver indeed who has not, at some stage, been involved in a collision either minor or serious.”

“Very often these collisions result in nothing more than an exchange of details and a handshake but sometimes where there is a dispute, objective evidence including evidence from a dash cam can be of vital importance.”

However, he said that there are some issues around the use of dash cams and highlighted three particular considerations:

  1. “Although dash cam footage can be useful, remember dash cams are not good quality cameras and even the best photographic or video evidence can be misleading. Dash cams by their nature can only give a view from one fixed point and very often are completely unable to give an idea of what happens before the moment of the collision, which may in itself be more important than the mechanics of the collision itself.”
  1. “The AA has suggested that there is tighter regulation of dash cam use because of the prevalence of posting videos on social media and certainly there is a concern that such videos may give an unfair or inaccurate version of someone’s driving.”

“However, the reality is that dash cams are here to stay, they are not going to be un-invented and the kind of restrictive rules which some European countries, such as Luxembourg seek to impose, are both unpleasantly authoritarian and unenforceable”.

“Whether we like it or not we live in an age where we are surrounded by almost limitless amounts of information and seemingly almost limitless numbers of postings of videos, photographs and other materials by individuals who seem to think that we are all dying to see what they have caught on their camera.”

“Of course, with some of the footage seen on YouTube, that is quite literally the case and much of it is distasteful, but distasteful or not, this is reality and if people are allowed to take video footage of such incidents – they are – then why should we not be allowed to see such footage?”

  1. “There is no doubt that dash cam footage can be useful in evidence but can also be of limited use and sometimes, of course, positively misleading as well. Nevertheless, any footage might be considered better than no footage at all.”

He concluded: “Perhaps the President of the AA might be better advised to call for tighter regulation of CCTV – we are the most spied-upon nation on earth – rather than worry about the humble dash cam.”