More and more cars and trucks have dash cams and more and more motorcyclists wear helmet cams for a number of reasons such as insurance purposes, and driver monitoring and training. Driving instructors frequently have dash cams, too, and it’s possible even to get a cradle for a smartphone to record what is going on either inside or outside the vehicle.
Over the ditch in New Zealand, NZTA is permitting people taking a driving test to use a dash cam to film the exam. If the camera only records what is going on outside the vehicle and no audio is recorded, no permission is needed. If the camera records inside the car then both the testing officer and the person sitting the test must have given permission. Motorbike riders don’t have to ask permission to have a helmet cam.
What does Roads and Maritime say?
We called Roads and Maritime who, in turn, called a testing centre to verify and unfortunately they are taking a rather more closed approach to this and not allowing cameras at all on driving tests. If you have a camera fitted to your car, truck or motorbike helmet, it must be turned off. Roads and Maritime have a fairly solid point: having a camera could lead to more drivers challenging a decision by a testing officer which would cause more work for the agency. However, this isn’t exactly transparent. There is also the issue that testing routes could become well known if people upload the videos to YouTube.
Being a testing officer is a stressful job and, given the millions of permutations and combinations of events that can happen on the road, they sometimes make decisions that, with greater evidence, would not have seemed fair to the person sitting the driving test. The same thing happens with rugby refs, for example. However, drivers should have a right to prove they have been disadvantaged by a poor choice from a testing officer, especially seeing as not having a driving licence can disadvantage a person’s employability.
There is also the fact that switching off an outwards facing camera negates the reason it is there in the first place: as proof in the case of an accident where the fault is ambiguous.
We can’t see any good reason R&M have an issue with outward facing cameras that record no sound. They should be allowed at all times. Inward facing cameras that record sound should be allowed when all parties agree.
R&M is unlikely to change its opinion unless public pressure is great enough.