Dashboard cameras are growing in popularity in recent years because of the security they provide for drivers. They can help sort out culpability in court cases and insurance fraud. Sometimes they even capture footage of interesting events such as the earthbound meteor in Russia that was caught on thousands of dashcams in 2013.
For all of these reasons, Sen. José Peralta and Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman are proposing a new law that requires insurance companies to provide a discount for non-commercial drivers who install dashboard cameras in their vehicles. The bill (S. 6785A/A. 10392), if passed, would make New York the first state to create such a law.
“If motorists know fellow drivers have dashcams in their vehicles, they will think about it twice before leaving the scene of an accident or driving recklessly.”
— Sen. José Peralta
The driving force behind this bill is an effort to reduce the number of hit-and-run incidents in New York, but Peralta thinks there would be other benefits.
“If motorists know fellow drivers have dashcams in their vehicles, they will think about it twice before leaving the scene of an accident or driving recklessly,” Peralta said. “With a dashboard camera installed in your car, you can provide footage in case of hit-and-runs and accidents. You can also fight a ticket, and you can even capture footage of unrelated events as you drive.”
In addition to hit-and-runs, there is growing concern over the number of insurance fraud incidents, which rose 13 percent between 2012 and 2013, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. There are countless dashcam videos on the Internet of attempted insurance fraud, including people jumping on the hoods of cars or laying down in the middle of the street with a prior injury, hoping to win big money in a claim against the driver.
Without dashcam evidence, it is possible that those criminals would have gotten away with it, leaving the driver to suffer the financial and legal burdens.
These types of incidents harm not only the drivers involved, but everyone who pays auto insurance, because successful insurance fraud scams drive up premiums for everyone. “When people defraud insurance companies, they are defrauding everyone as we end up paying more for our overall insurance premiums,” said Peralta, D-East Elmhurst.
New York drivers pay 5 percent more annually for insurance than the national average, and this bill could help keep rates down, according to its sponsors. In New York there are already programs in place to reduce traffic collisions and increase safety. Defensive driving courses, automatic seatbelts and airbags all typically provide some form of discount on insurance premiums.
“Any savings makes a difference for working families paying for car insurance,” said Hyndman, D-Rosedale.
The law would not require motorists to install dashboard cameras, but it would make it mandatory that insurance companies provide a 5 percent discount in premiums if a motorist chooses to install one.
The proposed law would also:
- Require an insurer to review dashboard camera footage following the submission of a claim
- Allow an insurer to request records relating to the installation of dashboard cameras in a vehicle from the Department of Motor Vehicles
- Create a certification process to determine whether a dashboard camera is properly installed in an automobile
- Allow the DMV to create rules and regulations for the safe use dashboards cameras, including size and location of the devices within vehicles, and
- In civil and criminal legal proceedings, would allow properly authenticated dashboard footage to be used as evidence.
“Too often, I am asked to comment on yet another pedestrian death at a busy intersection,” said Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky. “Unfortunately, there are many times when a driver is never held accountable. Dashboard cameras can fill a huge hole in traffic safety by providing an objective account of how an accident occurred; especially when a pedestrian is involved.”
The bill resides in the Insurance Committee in both houses.