Following the recent explosion in popularity of dashcam videos on social media it has become increasingly enticing option to stick one in our own vehicles – but are they actually legal in South Africa?
“The built-in memory and continuous recording of these nifty devices ensures that all the action is captured. With no-claims bonuses and potential lawsuits threatening drivers, these little cameras are rising dramatically in popularity across South Africa,” said Jeff Osborne, head of Gumtree Automotive.
In theory, these cameras will avoid unscrupulous behavior from fraudsters who stage “crash for cash” scams, as well as eliminating corruption from traffic officers who insist on “spot fines” or bribes as it creates a visual record of events. In practice however, there are no guarantees that you will win a case based on your video evidence, said Osborne.
“The biggest issue with any new technology is that the law needs to catch up to advances. As it stands, there is no law clarifying the validity or legality of dash cams in South Africa. The degree to which the video evidence will be allowed will depend on the discretion of the court and the individual insurance firms, and the onus may well rest on the owner to prove that the footage has not been tampered with.”
Osborne also said that even if the other party is at fault, and admits it, there is no guarantee of any form of pay-out.
“No one really gets wealthy from an accident I’m afraid,” he said.
Some countries argue that dash cams can be considered electronic surveillance devices, and should be outlawed for that reason. However unless the issue is brought directly to South African courts, business should continue as usual.
“In general you can record anything that happens on public roads legally. But if you are recording audio of your private conversations with the people inside the car, you should inform them that your dashcam is recording,” said Osborne.
This sentiment is echoed by Arrive Alive who noted that provided the the video stayed with the car and was not transmitted elsewhere dashcams are perfectly legal.
“We are already being monitored by CCTV cameras all around us – if you do nothing wrong – you should have nothing to fear,” the organisation said.