Tow truck driving is a dangerous career to be in. Whether you are a driver or even run a tow truck business, you are dealing with a lot of risk not only to your cars, but to your employees. For obvious reasons, no one likes to deal with tow trucks because often, their cars are being towed!
But you have an obligation to your city or the owners of the lot to remove vehicles that do not belong. And just like any other business, there are calculated risks you have to take. We think you can take those calculated risks by protecting your investment at a budget-friendly price.
Do tow trucks have dash cams? Many don’t, but they should! Owning a dash cam for your tow truck or for your fleet can be a worthwhile investment in the long run. One benefit is that it can protect your vehicle from external threats like false claims made by other car owners. Often times they’ll blame the tow truck driver on damages on their car. Video evidence can stop that in its tracks.
Having a dash cam present improves a tow truck driver’s driving performance by encouraging them to drive more carefully and also allows them to utilize the dash cam to reduce self-caused accidents reversing or otherwise. And finally it promotes accountability from the driver and all participants. You can easily find out if the driver is not performing their duty reliably and to your standards.
Tow Truck Dash Cam Must-Haves
Being able to analyze footage in the middle of the night or when the sun has barely risen can be a big part of a tow truck’s business. While some businesses don’t run at night, there are many tow truck companies that are night owls.
Having a dash cam that has night vision capabilities can be extremely useful. Why have a dash cam film at night where the footage is super grainy?
Night vision for dash cams vary a bit. The top rated feature you need to have if night vision is a priority are infrared sensors. These sensors will light up any scene and help capture great footage. While this is a premium feature, it is also not widely available. More common are dash cams that have a large aperture meaning they can let in a lot of light. Anything F/1.8 or lower is ideal.
Finally, many dash cams work on the software to help decode low light situations. They typically won’t mention anything about aperture and instead talk about Dynamic Range or sensor processing. While having the software try to tackle night vision is better than nothing, ultimately software can’t repopulate data or pixels into footage. Try to rely on the hardware than the software in this case.
An important feature if you want to have a dash cam setup is to have a front and rear system. While most drivers are satisfied with a forward facing camera, we all know a lot of action happens behind the tow truck.
Having coverage in the rear will help with customer’s dispute over damages or if they happen to find their car mid-tow and decide to get aggressive. Training can help your driver prepare for the worst, but often times in courts it is their word versus yours. Having an unbiased source like a dash cam recording everything can be huge.
Optionally, you can have a cabin facing camera as well. While your tow truck drivers are unlikely to be ride sharing, it can be useful to ensure drivers are being safe and efficient. Are they falling asleep at the wheel? Are they on the phone while on the job? These are questions many tow truck companies have, but can’t answer.
Having GPS or WiFi is a very luxury feature, but may suit your needs when you have dozens of cars out and about.
WiFi is great to have to easily download footage. Running setups on multiple vehicles means the traditional way would be to take out each SD card, remember what card goes to what vehicle and reinsert them after finishing. Having WiFi allows you to easily access the camera’s footage with your smartphone then save it or review it and then walk away. No hassles!
GPS is especially useful when there’s been an incident and you need to see speed at the time of the event. A simple video might tell a police officer how fast your driver was going, and the GPS functionality can be a tool to fight for your defense.
G-Sensor is a feature that activates when the vehicle experiences a large vibration, often from an accident. It will place the most recent footage into a separate folder and “lock” it so it won’t be deleted. Many dash cams have loop recording which will delete the oldest footage to obtain new space for the most recent footage. G-sensor ensures that vital footage isn’t erased. This is standard on most dash cams.
Depending on your comfort levels, having a discrete dash cam design could be a priority for you. If people see the dash cam, ideally that would discourage them from causing any disturbance with your driver. Not ideally, they can realize they need to act more maliciously by avoiding the camera’s viewing angle or doing discrete actions.
By having a small form factor, this gives a better chance for people not to recognize they are being recorded when doing something illegal or unsavory.
It is the same concept as having a security system at your house. Do you want all your home’s cameras viewable to everyone walking by? Most likely not.
Vantrue S1 2160P
Anything that comes out of Vantrue is a trusted product. The Vantrue S1 is a dual dash cam setup for front and rear coverage. This setup excels with its discrete form factor. Being small allows you to record without being noticed to capture any raw incident.
It can record with both cameras at 1080p @ 30fps and with the front camera only on it can record at 60fps ensuring buttery smooth footage. The Vantrue comes with an extra long cord from the rear camera to the front camera and is heavy duty so it’ll withstand some punishment.
Additionally this has a GPS unit already built-in which allows you to see routes, speeds and locations.
For night vision it sports a F/1.47 aperture lens which is really unheard of in the dash cam world. This will provide excellent night vision image quality.
The Haloview MC7108 isn’t your typical dash cam setup. In fact, it’s not really a dash cam, but instead a wireless backup camera kit. So while it doesn’t have a lot of the features you typically look for in a dash cam, it includes some functions that tow truck driver’s would find helpful.
The Haloview comes with a massive 7 inch monitor where you can record or playback video. It comes with 1 camera that can be put anywhere around your truck as long as it can connect to power. It connects to the main unit wirelessly and transmits data through WiFi. This allows you to be creative with the placement of the camera and not be restricted by the length of the cord. We recommend installing this outside of the car to get a better angle of the person’s car.
The great thing about this setup is that you can add multiple cameras for different viewing angles. Add up to 4 cameras for varying coverage. While you may need 4 cameras for a big rig, we think having 2 is more than enough.
While this doesn’t have some features of a dash cam like Parking Mode or GPS, it does the main job of recording footage.
Each individual camera is waterproof, so you don’t have to worry about the weather if it’s outside of the cabin. It also has infrared sensors meaning night vision will be super clear.
CHORTAU Dual Dash Cam
Next up is our budget camera, the CHORTAU dash cam. It does feature both front and rear cameras and the best thing about this setup is that the both cameras come with infrared night vision. The rear camera is also waterproof and discrete in design. If you are on a budget or need to buy several dash cams and don’t want to break the budget, this is for you.
And since this is a dash cam, it comes with a lot of standard features like Parking Mode, G-Sensor and Loop Recording.
And with this budget setup, we didn’t expect much from customer support but were pleasantly surprised on how responsive they were.
Vantrue N4 Dual Dash Cam
And finally is the Vantrue N4 Dual Dash Cam. By the title you might think this only has two cameras, but in fact it has three. One facing the front, the rear and in the cabin. This ensures maximum coverage for your tow truck vehicle. All 3 cameras can record simultaneously at 1440P, 1080P and 1080P resolutions, which is a testament on how much power this dash cam is capable of.
In terms of night vision, the only infrared lights are in the cabin. For the other cameras, it has a F/1.4 aperture front lens and a F/1.8 in the rear.
One big pain we find with this setup is that you can’t view footage via WiFi, making reviewing the process a bit longer. If you want to ensure maximum coverage, and think you’ll review footage infrequently then the Vantrue N4 is your best bet. It comes with a 18 month warranty.