Dashboard cameras are not banned in UAE
In many cases, dash cam footage can also serve as a deciding factor when it comes to accident investigation
The department welcomes videos and photographs of road violations, as part of the 'We Are Police' programme.
Though dashboard cameras are widely thought of as being banned in UAE, they are not, and can actually assist motorists and investigating authorities in the aftermath of traffic accidents, according to experts and police officials.
Brigadier Saif Muhair Al Mazroui, Director of the General Department of Traffic at the Dubai Police, said that the department welcomes videos and photographs of road violations, as part of the 'We Are Police' programme.
He noted that it is particularly important as, in many cases, motorists only obey the law when in close proximity to police vehicles.
According to Al Mazroui, police received 24,234 reports from the public regarding traffic violations and misconduct in the first seven months of 2016.
Mike Singer, Executive Brand Manager of OpenEye Security and Installations - the only company licensed in the UAE to distribute, monitor and install dash cams for commercial use - says that the benefits of a dash cam are just as important to the individual motorist as they are to the police, especially during the holy month of Ramadan.
"Dash cams can give the drivers a significant amount of peace of mind," he said. "People are focused on getting to their Iftar to see friends and family. It's enough of a stress to worry about having to make it to your destination on time, it's another having to worry about your safety in the car. We know that after having a test fleet, dash cam users felt significantly safer on the roads with a dash camera in the vehicle then when they didn't have one."
In many cases, dash cam footage can also serve as a deciding factor when it comes to accident investigation, by proving innocence or culpability to Dubai Police or one's insurance company. As an example, Singer pointed to an incident that a recent incident that he was personally involved in.
"I was sitting at a light a couple months ago after having dropped my wife off at the metro and, low and behold, I witnessed an accident with my dash cam. Luckily there weren't any major injuries," he noted. "It turned out that after showing the attending officers a clear video of the accident, the verdict was actually changed because of the footage."
Despite the widespread public misconception that dash cams are illegal, Singer noted that, in his view, attitudes are beginning to change across the UAE.
"I do believe that both the private and commercial sectors have slowly started to accept the concept of dash cameras. We find that commercial fleets are really enthusiastic about incorporating cameras into their vehicles, while the private drivers are a bit hesitant," he said. "We have started working really closely with different companies to bring an awareness and acceptance of dash cams, and more importantly road safety."
Dash cams and other imagery becomes illegal, however, when they are misused, shared with the general public, or used to defame the owners of vehicles.
According to Brigadier Al Mazroui, in several instances Dubai Police have had to take action against people who abused the 'We Are Police' programme.
In one memorable instance, for example, a Pakistani expat sent in a picture of himself to police with a note which read "I want to work for Dubai Police", while another man sent in a picture with a love note to police officers.
More important, Al Mazroui noted that anyone who uploads imagery to social media, or violates the privacy of others, is subject to legal action, even if the shared imagery does, in fact, show evidence of traffic or other legal violations.
Additionally, Al Mazroui noted that few of the people that have been called by Dubai Police to answer for traffic violations caught by members of the public have objected to having their images taken, as, Dubai Police do not tolerate any misuse of the images.
To use the system properly, Dubai Police note that the image should include a clear image of the road in which the violation is committed, and that important details - such as the number plate - should be clearly visible.
Pictures should be sent within two hours of a violation, and not be taken while using a phone or camera while driving - making dash cams a perfect option.