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Sales of dashcams rising

Consumers buying cameras for protection, evidence

SAN ANTONIO – Once used primarily by police, dashcams are making their way into the cars of consumers. U.S. wholesale shipments are expected to rise 15 percent and  generate $68 million in sales this year. 

An increasing number of consumers are buying dash cams for protection.

Imagine accidentally hitting a pedestrian who suddenly ran in front of your moving car when you had the right of way or being rammed by another vehicle or even being pulled over by a policeman for no apparent reason.

A dashcam can provide evidence and be used by an insurance company to prove that you weren’t liable. Most insurance companies will accept dash cam footage from their policyholders in the case of an accident to assist in a claim. These gadgets also can be useful in disputes about racial profiling by police, and can come in handy if your car is damaged while it's parked.

And they’re legal, as long as you record what’s going on outside the car on public roads.

Inside the car is another matter. Privacy laws vary from state to state.

Texas is a one-party consent state, meaning only one person needs to be aware of the recording.

What should you look for in a dashcam? Consumer Reports compiled a list of essential features. Providing detailed images is key, so get a high-definition cam with a resolution of at least 1080 pixels. Also important: low-light capability for when it’s dark outside. Get one with ample storage -- at least 32 gigabytes -- to preserve footage. And make sure it comes with long loop times -- 5 minute files are best -- so you don’t record over essential footage.

Dashcams can give you peace of mind, but don’t forget -- your own footage can also be used against you. It’s important to note that there is generally no legal obligation to save your dashcam footage. However, destroying it could lead to legal complications in the case of a criminal investigation or civil action.

Also be aware that some states have laws prohibiting or restricting electronic devices on the front windshield. They are: AL, AK, CT, DE, DC, GA, ID, KS, KY, LA, MT, NE, NJ, NM, ND, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TX, VT, WA, WV, WI. And states which restrict windshield mounting location: AZ, CA, HI, IN, MD, OH, NV, UT.

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