HOUSTON – From bad drivers to traffic jams to incidents of road rage, the roads in Houston can be dangerous.
Last year, there were 308 traffic accidents per day in Harris County alone. These days, more people are putting an extra set of eyes on the roads, with the help of personal dash cams.
"We see other wrecks, people cutting each other off (and) things flying out of the back of vehicles," said James Amaris, the owner of On Time Tire. "It's endless what you see when you are on the roads every day."
Amaris, who runs the mobile tire repair company, drives up to 250 miles a day across the Houston area. After a few close calls, Amaris decided it was time to get a personal dash cam for his truck. It didn't take long for the camera to pay off.
"I was leaving a job site and I had gotten on the Beltway," Amaris said. "I was traveling in the second to the fast lane and the vehicle that was passing in the fast lane lost control of his own vehicle. He was actually passing somebody illegally on the shoulder, which is kind of funny because it is all real evident on the dash cam. He got upset because the person made a gesture at him and he slammed on his brakes and lost control of his own vehicle, causing an accident. Once we were towed to a gas station, the gentleman claimed that it was my fault and that I had come into his lane and struck him."
Armed with evidence, Amaris got the video ready and showed police at the scene exactly what happened.
"They impounded his vehicle and cited him for the incidents," Amaris said.
Video from a dash cam is almost always included as evidence in a police report and court cases. If you're installing your own, you'll just want to watch where you put the camera.
In Texas, you can't install anything on the dash or window in a place that will block your vision.
"The beauty of the camera is the simplicity," Amaris said. "Put it on your dash, plug it in and it automatically starts recording."
The online DashCam Store is a one-stop shop for cameras and the company troubleshoots problems, too. Experts are available to answer questions, which is something you often won't get from shopping at a big-box store. Dash cameras start at about $50.
"We are experts in the field and provide a higher level of support on the products," said Andrew Hunter, vice president of sales for the DashCam Store.
While the video is always recording, if you want something saved, you simply push a button and the clip will be archived.
"It is best to select enough storage to get you through a full day's commute," Hunter said. "However, there are parking mode features on dash cams, so if you are interested in recording while you are away from the vehicle, we would recommend enough storage to get you through a full day’s work."
Other cameras have a screen on the back so you can record what is going on inside the car. If someone breaks in and steals your car, you can also get GPS to track speed and location.
"We encourage customers to buy dash cams so they don't fall victim to false accusations with other drivers or authorities," Hunter said.
Dash Cam 101: Where do you start?
Hunter provided three recommendations.
For an entry-level camera, the DashCam Store recommends the Papago Gosafe 272, a mini single-lens dash cam for around $55. This camera includes an SD card out of the box and it's easy to set up and simple to use.
The GoSafe 272 has an LCD screen for verifying your live recording is taking place and for playing back recorded video files. The housing is engineered with durable materials and is designed to withstand both high and low temperatures. The GoSafe 272 has a built-in G-Sensor that will automatically back up to secondary storage for when an impact occurs.
For a medium-range suggestion, check out the DOD LS475W Full HD 1080p Single Lens GPS Dash Cam with WDR (Wide Dynamic Range).
The LS475W includes ISO sensitivity of up to ISO 12800 for superior low-light and night-video recording. The built-in 10Hz GPS processor allows drivers to capture speed and location with accuracy; no external, optional, or additional GPS unit are needed with this dash cam.
For a quality, high-end camera, The DashCam Store recommends the BlackVue DR750LW-2CH Touchscreen Dash Cam with Dual-Lens 1080p & WiFi.
The BlackVue DR 750 S is a top-of-the-line camera that will have the higher-recording quality that supports a two-camera setup. It is packed with features such as parking mode and GPS to track speed and location -- and it will provide remote access to the camera via the Cloud.
The DashCam Store also can supply answers to just about every question you may have, including what camera might be best for you and answers to common problems that may arise.