United Kingdom

Over 21k dashcam clips of dangerous driving given to police in 2 years

A dashcam portal that allows drivers to upload clips of dangerous and careless driving has received 21,324 unique footage uploads since it launched in 2018.

Driver's footage has assisted police in identifying, warning and prosecuting offenders nationwide and in more than half of cases resulted in further action, ranging from court cases to awareness courses, or fixed penalty notices to warning letters, says the company behind the portal.

Of the 45 police forces across the country, 33 are using the database. It has been claimed to save officers an average of eight hours per case, which over two years amounts to approximately 170,000 hours - the equivalent of over 20 years of police time.

Dobbing drivers: Since the inception of the National Dash Cam Safety Portal in July 2018, the database has received 21,324 video uploads, says its founder

Device manufacturer Nextbase revealed the system's latest statistics, having set up the National Dash Cam Safety Portal in July 2018 to allow road users to upload film of incidents for the police to review and use as evidence.

It estimates that over three million road users use a dash or helmet-cam currently, which were originally designed to help motorists in insurance claim disputes.

However, the popularity of the devices has in recent years seen a surge in footage of shocking behaviour on the road appearing on YouTube and other social media platforms. 

The portal, which is run in partnership with security software specialist Egress, has been increasingly used during the Covid-19 pandemic, despite roads generally being quieter.

That said, cases on extreme speeding soared in the first months of the lockdown, with police forces taking to social media to encourage motorists not to use deserted highways as race tracks. 

In the last 90 days alone there have been 3,805 uploads to the portal - a 78 per cent increase on the average rate, says Nextbase.

And the footage is being put to good use. 

Some 52 per cent - over 11,000 - of the clips have been used to take law-breaking drivers to court or forced them into awareness courses, to pay fixed penalty notices or receive stern warning letters.

Fewer than one in five cases have resulted in no further action, says the founder.

Some 52% of of the videos have been used to secure court action, awareness courses, fines or warnings

The growing success of the database has inspired further police forces to sign up to use the not-for-profit resource, and more constabularies are reportedly set to join before the end of the year.

Richard Browning, director of Nextbase, said: 'Just because there are less vehicles on the road, doesn't necessarily make driving safer. In fact, less busy roads can encourage motorists to bend the rules or lose some concentration.

'However, the portal was created to make our roads safer and it is encouraging to see that people have still been reporting issues where reckless motorists have thought that they can take advantage of the clear pathways - potentially endangering others. 

'We have watched this platform grow from both a public and police perspective and are hugely encouraged by its continued appeal.'

And dashcams are not just useful for uploading incriminating evidence of other road users breaking the law.

A recent poll of motorists found that a third who use the devices in their cars - or cameras attached to motorcycle helmets - have successfully proved they were not at fault for an incident by submitting footage to their insurer. 

How the National Dam Cam Safety Portal works 

The database is said to have dramatically cut the amount of work police need to put in to review dashcam footage and decide whether someone has been driving dangerously.

It's estimated the previous method of receiving, viewing and processing footage of dangerous driving provided by other motorists would take around 14 hours per video.

This is because clips could only be used in a similar way to eye-witness accounts, which required interviews and masses of paperwork during processing - which unsurprisingly proved time consuming.

The new portal instead utilises a loophole found by North Wales Police in 2016 that allows forces to use dashcam and helmet cam footage in the same way speed camera clips are used as the sole evidence needed to punish limit-breaking motorists.

Nextbase said the portal has been used at record levels in recent months, despite fewer drivers being on the road

The new system makes it simple and fast for drivers to upload dashcam footage to a police-accessed network.

Each video requires a short description of the event captured and a supporting online questionnaire, which takes around 15 minutes to complete in total.

This is then used as the eyewitness statement in cases.

Officers review each video and - as with speeding fines - send a driving penalty notice to the guilty party who can choose to accept it or dispute it in court.

All public-generated video footage can be used to target a multitude of offences including dangerous driving, driving without due care and attention, contravening solid white lines, mobile phone use, improper control of vehicle and running red traffic lights.

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