Dashboard cameras: where it’s advisable to put them away

Dashboard cameras: where it’s advisable to put them away

INNOVATION

One of the many things to think about when driving abroad in summer is the use of dashcams. Find out what rules apply in which countries.

31. 7. 2020

The rules governing dashcam use in European countries differ widely and are often unclear. Do you know where there are no restrictions, where to be careful what you do with the footage, and where you’re not allowed to use a dashcam or even own one? Take a trip with us around Europe and the rest of the world to find out about the local rules.

Germany

Want to show off about hitting high speeds on German motorways? Make sure that no faces or registration numbers are discernable in the footage.

France

Besides the fact that, as in other countries, a dashcam mustn’t obstruct the driver’s view, France has a specific rule about filming for private and evidence purposes: if you want to use your footage as evidence, you have to hand it over to the police.

Austria

Austria is one of the countries where the rules are unclear. It’s not so long ago that simply having a dashcam in your car would get you a fine, even if it was switched off. Today? All fixed-position cameras taking footage of public spaces must be registered with the authorities. The Austrian ÖAMTC automobile club claims this doesn’t apply to dashboard cameras, though. So you can use one. But you mustn’t publish the footage! Any recording in which individuals or cars (registration numbers) can be identified is illegal, and publishing it can result in a fine of up to EUR 10,000. So caution is advised.

Cables all over the place?

These days, it’s a familiar image of the inside of our cars: a tangle of USB cables from the electricity port with a splitter to charge various iPads, phones, DVD players and dashcams. All ŠKODA models from 2021 onwards will make this a thing of the past, though, at least as far as dashcams are concerned. That’s because one of the innovations is a cleverly located connector for powering a dashcam. Like the new ŠKODA OCTAVIA, the SUPERB, KODIAQ, KAROQ, SCALA and KAMIQ models will get USB-C connectors. One can even be located in the interior rearview mirror at the customer’s request.

Switzerland

In Switzerland it’s highly complicated. The use of dashcams is not prohibited. But there are several conditions. First: you need a lawful reason – you can’t just film for the sake of it or as documentary footage from your travels. Second: everybody on video has to know that you’re recording them, which is unrealistic. Third: proportionality – you’re only allowed to film important events, not tens or hundreds of kilometres of ordinary driving (and thus also hundreds of cars and people). So you should only turn on your dashcam a few seconds before an accident or other incident. If you want our advice, leave your dashcam at home.

Slovakia

You are allowed to use dashcams for personal and evidential reasons. But if you decide to publish some footage, you have to respect others’ privacy and ensure that the images do not show people and their behaviour in public. If the police stop you, they can also check that your dashcam doesn’t obstruct the driver’s view.

Greece

A bit of a grey area. Dashcams are legal for personal use, but publishing your footage and using it for insurance purposes is illegal. Footage can only be used as evidence when someone is accused of a crime.

Hungary

The rules in Hungary are pretty strange. You are allowed to use a dashcam for personal purposes, but there’s no precise definition of what that means. What’s more, the footage must be low-resolution and have a low frame rate, and you have to make sure that nobody else will misuse it and that it will be erased after five working days. Our recommendation: instead of spending time changing the camera’s settings at the border and worrying about erasing your footage, just take it off.

Belgium

Footage is intended solely for private purposes and its publication is prohibited. Footage can be used as evidence, but you have to inform all the concerned parties first.

Portugal

Portugal has the strictest approach: you’re not even allowed to own a dashcam! So you can expect the police to give you a hard time even if they find a dashcam on a seat in your car, in the glove compartment or in the boot. What drivers are supposed to do if the only route into the country goes through Spain, where the use of cameras is unrestricted, is anybody’s guess.

Luxembourg

If you drive through this little country, remove the dashcam at the border. You’re allowed to own one, but not to use it.

Poland

The authorities haven’t paid much attention to dashcams here, and there isn’t much information available. You may use one, but making the footage public must respect the law on personal data and privacy. In other words, it must be impossible to identify individuals and registration numbers.

Ukraine

Most of us will have seen online videos of people jumping onto the bonnet of a car, at a pedestrian crossing, say, denting the bonnet and cracking the windscreen, as well as their own heads sometimes. This kind of insurance fraud is pretty common in Ukraine. So a dashcam comes in handy and the footage can be used as welcome evidence. Again, though, registration numbers and faces should not be visible.

Countries with no restrictions

Did you notice that Russia was not included in the list? That’s because it’s one of those countries where there are no special rules and restrictions on the use of dashcams. And Russia is, in many people’s view, a country where dashcams are very useful and have become widespread. You must have seen videos on Facebook or YouTube showing the bizarre and frankly incredible situations that occur on Russian roads.

Other countries where the use of dashcams is unrestricted – as long as the camera does not obstruct the driver’s view and you blur out all faces and registration numbers before publishing the footage – include Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Croatia, Italy, Ireland, Iceland, Lithuania, Latvia, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Slovenia, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

What about the rest of the world?

Asia – the greatest potential for dashcam growth. Dashcam use in China has increased by twenty per cent in the past years. And it will continue to increase, because the country will soon overtake the USA as the world’s biggest automobile market. The number of dashcams is rising constantly with rising car numbers in South Korea as well. This is also true in southeast Asia, e.g. in Indonesia, Malaysia or Singapore, where hazards on the roads and insurance fraud are common. Japan is a bit of an exception, because dashcams are mainly used in taxis and police cars for monitoring their drivers’ behaviour and improving their efficiency.

North America – in Canada and the USA it is usually individual states that set rules on dashcam use. In Canada the use of dashcams is fully legal because the vast majority of roads are treated as public space, so there is nothing to prevent filming for self-protection purposes in the event of accidents. Video footage of public places and events in the USA is covered by the First Amendment, while the rules on filming private events are set by the individual states. Audio recording is a different matter, though, as it is not so clearly permitted. And while privacy issues are the main bone of contention in Europe, the focus in the USA is on the positioning of dashcams in a driver’s field of vision. States like California or Colorado allow dashcams to be attached to the windscreen, but Texas and New York, say, prohibit “anything non-transparent” being attached to the windscreen. That doesn’t mean that dashcams are illegal there – you just have to think carefully about where to position them.

Australia – dashcams are legal in all states and footage from them is appreciated by insurance companies and the police.

The data are valid as of 1 July 2020.

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