The AA has said it will lobby Government to look at privacy laws surrounding dashcams, after it raised concerns at the growing number of people sharing footage online.
While the motoring group is not calling for an outright ban, its president Edmund King said: “There is an element of vehicular voyeurism from some individuals.” He added, however, that the majority of drivers who fit cameras do so to protect themselves from crash for cash fraudsters or dangerous drivers.
A recent survey by the Road Haulage Association (RHA) found 50% of fleets were now using dashcams and another 30% were actively considering introducing them.
The AA supports camera evidence being submitted to police, who can assess it and speak to the other party before action is taken. However, King said many victims of online videos could be caught out by diesel spills, black ice, intimidation or trying to avoid another road user.
He said: “Perhaps Government needs to look at a privacy charter for use of dashcam material, before video vehicular voyeurism gets totally out of hand.”
Simon Marsh, managing director of UK dashcam provider VisionTrack, said the firm’s dashcam sales have increased by 40% in the past 12 months. VisionTrack’s camera can automatically edit out number plates to ensure drivers are not identified in footage.
He told Fleet News: “The AA is making some valid points about vehicle voyeurism and the unregulated sharing of dashcam footage.
“Currently the system is a little out of control and hundreds of videos are being downloaded each day and shared across platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.”
Marsh said ‘cash for crash’ is still a big problem for fleets, with fraudsters targeting company cars, because they know drivers will be insured and the vehicle will be covered by a comprehensive, company-wide policy.
He said: “They specifically target vehicles which are not covered by cameras. We have had incidents with fleet clients where the driver has braked abruptly in front of them in an obvious ‘cash for crash’ whiplash scam.
“Once the fleet driver has pointed out their camera the other driver has declined to make a claim – knowing their camera has exposed their fraud.”
Marsh agreed that fleet managers should make sure employees are not uploading footage to social media themselves.
He said: “Footage should only be shared by professionals who are trained in the law and understand the potential implications of sharing content on a public platform.
“A driver could get himself into a lot of trouble by sharing footage irresponsibly.”
Marsh said any responsible fleet will have a policy in place concerning the sharing of footage.
In the event of an insurance claim, drivers will need to see the footage, but Marsh said it should be made clear the footage does not belong to the driver – it is owned by the fleet itself.
He concluded: “The fleet has control of the footage. If they feel there is a powerful public safety message which can be made by the sharing of the footage then we would support them in releasing it. But this should never be done a by driver acting on their own.”