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Dash Cams – Buy Cheap, Buy Twice? Surprising Change of Opinion

Used Dash Cameras Ireland

Ok where to start? The above photo is a mix of cameras. 2 DRS1100’s, an iTronics ITB100HD and a Mini 0801.

I initially only wanted the best, the DRS1100 are both old and I stopped using them more than a year ago. The DRS1100 was one of the first dash cams and was the best at the time. From them, I upgraded to the iTronics ITB100HD, I bought 4 and had them shipped from Asia. They were the best on the market at the time too and they were expensive. Out of the 4, I kept 3 and gave one away in a Facebook competition.

Out of the 3, the one above stopped working with a “Boot Issue”. I hope the one that went to the competition winner is still going ok. After seeing what cheaper cameras could offer, pretty much the same thing, I decided there’s not much point going for the best of the best and having them shipped from outside the EU (risk of import duties, can’t claim the VAT back, expensive returns and if buying from Ebay, the seller may not even be around by the time it develops a problem).

I decided to get a cheaper camera for the replacement for the broken ITB100HD and went for the Mini 0801, and bought from Amazon and it was fulfilled by Amazon. This too developed a fault but the return process from Amazon was amazing, I went on live chat at 5am one morning, they sent a link to a page I just had to print out, cut around labels, stick to a box, bring it to the post office and it didn’t cost a thing. They refunded my card before I had even gone to the post office. With this in mind, I decided I’m only going to buy again “Dispatched and sold by” or “Fulfilled by” Amazon, I’ve had too many dash cams develop problems to be messing around.

I received 2 x Mini 0803 (update from the Mini 0801) today and although there’s a few bad reviews saying units have stopped working, overheated etc, I have that protection from Amazon so decided to go for it anyway. There is no camera currently out there at the moment which does EXACTLY what I want it to do. I started a thread on boards.ie about this only recently here: http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=2057270716

Until something comes out that’s almost fitting that description, I’ll be happy with what I have for the time being, safe in the knowledge that I can return it if they fail on me.

This is the link to the Mini 0803: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00JJI41LI/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Again, just make sure you’re buying “Dispatched and sold by” or “Fulfilled by” Amazon. I went for the one with the internal memory but on second thoughts, it probably would have been better to save money on that, and put it towards a 2nd memory card because if anything is captured, it’s always best to eject the card and replace it so nothing important risks being recorded over. I can still do this with the internal memory using a second card, but you have to choose between “internal” and “external” card on the display, which is more hassle than just swapping cards.

So based on my experience of the reliance of these cameras, I’ve gone from wanting the top of the range and risking import duties and the likes, to putting the returns process at the forefront of my purchasing decision.

Man with a van takes cash off minors for smokes, gets them fruit and water instead!

I was filling up the van yesterday and saw 3 young girls asking pretty much everyone who went into the shop, to get them something. I thought it was only a matter of time before somebody did, so why not me? They wanted cigarettes and one girl said they were for her brother who’s 27 and around the corner so I took the money and did some shopping, but sorry girls, I forgot to give you 12c change 🙂

Make sure to watch in HD (bottom right of video player) and of course, watch until the end!

Who would be at fault if two vehicles change to the same lane and collide?

What would happen if the above video ended in two vehicles colliding? From the video you can see I’ve started to change lane before the other driver even indicates, it’s only a matter of milliseconds but if you look at the position the van is facing you’ll see it’s changed from straight on, to a little to the left. The rules of the road state you must give way to somebody who is completing a turn or maneuver so I’d say I’d be in the clear, but it’s a close call and I’m not sure if everyone, in particular an insurance assessor, would see it the same way?

Click for discussion thread on boards.ie!

No claim against me for rear-end case!

So following on from my previous post where I rear-ended a brand new 2012 Toyota Avensis, a collision where in the vast, vast majority of cases, the driver behind is to blame, the eventual outcome was in my favour. Although I strongly believed the driver in question pulled out far too soon, it was always going to be very difficult for me to prove this, given the nature of the collision itself.

Following on from the initial post, due to the fact I need the van for work, I repaired it immediately with my Ford Transit Mechanic. There was very light damage to my van and it was fixed and back to good for around €100. I met with the claims assessor from my insurance company and gave him a rundown of the events. We met at the scene and went over the details. The other driver, probably on advice from another party, refused to meet him to give her side of the story. I didn’t hear much while the assessor was dealing with the issue and about 2 weeks later an independent assessor whose job is to assess the vehicles to determine the point of impact, position etc, met with me and gave the van a look over. He said that due to the point of impact it would be difficult to prove my case and in order for proper readings of road conditions (such as rain) to be determined, it would have been necessary to close the road. Otherwise such claims wouldn’t stand up in court.

I spoke to the assessor from my own insurance company again and said how I didn’t want to accept liability. That accepting liability was accepting that I was a higher risk to my insurance company and would be met with years of increased premiums as a result, along with my license and driving history being tarnished. He spoke of what the independent assessor advised them and I was adamant to not take the blame on this. He said he would look into it further and be in touch.

About 2 months passed without me hearing anything. My renewal was approaching and I got a shock when I saw the renewal letter. A premium increase of around 52% and a claim against my policy for about €8,000! I got in touch with my claims assessor immediately who assured me that the case is still open and this is the standard renewal process with an open claim. That they charge you for it as if it went against you and then if you happen to win, they will refund you or charge less for the remainder of the policy based on no claims.

The assessor didn’t realise the renewal date was imminent so told me he would chase it up again. I reminded him again that I did not want to accept liability and was willing to take it further. A cost neither insurance company would want to risk and considering there were no personal injury claims with this case, it was a relatively small amount compared to what some cases can be.

A few days later I picked up the phone and it was my claims assessor again, this time giving me the good news that the third party insurance company has decided to take responsibility for the cost of damage to the vehicle and there was therefore no claim against me. That was it, no more had to be done, over and done with very quickly. I’ve since renewed my policy at the same price as last year and continue to have no claims against the policy.

This started off as an almost impossible task to prove but has thankfully and I believe justifiably worked out in my favour.

Be careful who you choose to teach you to drive!

I spotted this driving instructor on the M50 yesterday sitting in the overtaking lane.

I gave him a little flash to see if he’d move and a tiny beep driving by too but he seemed completely oblivious. I know it doesn’t seem like much but this is technically a driving offense and you can be fined and I think even a point or two applied to your license. The unfortunate thing is that if you drive the M50, N7 or any 3 lane road in Ireland, most vehicles are sitting in the middle lane which actually causes a lot of problems further back in terms of progress and I reckon over 95% of people are unaware. Sure driving lessons in Ireland don’t even explore driving on a Motorway so it’s no surprise.

The problem this causes is quite significant, especially when the roads are busy. If there is one driver in the middle lane going significantly slower than the speed limit (I’d consider 10kmph+ to be significantly slower) and if most other drivers are traveling above this speed, then this immediately diminishes the actual driving lane as it’s also illegal to pass on their left (unless slow queuing traffic etc). So the years spent upgrading the M50 and all the tax payers money is not really being utilized as well as it should. The knock on effect of this is great in terms of congestion and this is worsened when for example, a heavy loaded van such as I’d be driving after a home removal is going faster than the driver stuck in the middle lane, but doesn’t have the acceleration to match the speed of the drivers in the outer most overtaking lane. In order to make progress, the van after it was probably in the driving lane  will now have to change lane to the middle lane, wait for an adequate gap to then get into the lane 3 (causing any vehicles approaching from a distance to ease off the accelerator), slowly pass the offending vehicle and then get back into lane 2 and then finally back into the driving lane. By completing this maneuver as traffic is beginning to build up, a lull has been caused and if this repeated (which is will be, by many different drivers, overtaking many different lane 2 drivers) a knock on effect will be caused and will contribute quite substantially to the flow of traffic.

You then of course get drivers getting frustrated and forcing an undertake maneuver to proceed faster so the safety level for all drivers is now of concern. To see a driving instructor from the Road “Safety” Authority sitting in lane 2 doesn’t inspire much confidence.

Also, I’d tend to avoid any driving instructors who don’t use their dipped headlights when they should. I personally always drive with my lights on. It’s just safer, but when it’s raining, cloudy, misty, dusk, dawn, and so many other scenarios, you should definitely have them on and again, I’ve seen countless driving instructors failing to do so, even in torrential rain on motorways when again, as a van driver, all I have to see them in their silver car, is a wing mirror and a look to my blind spot.

How to use GPS and Google Coordinates

I started this off as a post on boards.ie but thought I’d pop it here as it ended up being more like a blog post how to by the time I was finished!

As a man with a van who has to travel to new addresses far and wide, the most efficient, accurate and easy way to get somewhere is using Latitude and Longitude coordinates. Unfortunately not many people are aware of such a system and just how easy it makes it for the likes of myself to find an address.

With phones with built in GPS and maps readily available from only €39, I’d consider it an extremely valuable tool for anyone, especially in Ireland where so many houses can be in the middle of nowhere, with no post codes and only a road name which could go on for miles. I’ve read a few threads here of people complaining about failed deliveries from couriers etc because they simply couldn’t find the house.

Google Street View makes it even easier too. I’ve freaked out a few customers over the phone asking things like “is it the one with the yellow door?” after they tell me their address 😀

It’s simple to go from looking up an address to arriving there with your GPS.
1 – Go to maps.google.ie
2 – Search, zoom and pan until you find the area location.
3 – Drag the little orange man in the zoom bar to the exact street if available. Navigate in street view until you find the exact point.
4 – Click the link button just to the left of the pan buttons, you’ll be presented with a link URL and within this URL you’ll find the coordinates in decimal format. The dublin area is generally around 53.000000,-6.000000 numbers. You can also get the exact coordinates by right clicking any point on the map (while not in street view) and clicking “What’s here?”. The coordinates will then appear in the map search field in the format as above.
5 – Input these numbers to your GPS or have them available to give over the phone etc to anyone who may need them. Make sure you choose the correct format on your GPS. It must be decimal format (on Garmin you’re looking for h ddd.ddddd°). Also, just to note, your GPS may have North, South, East and West settings rather than + or -. Anything above 0 is North or East and anything below is South or West.
6 – Double check the route before you set off to make sure you have inputted the coordinates properly and they lead to the correct area as one little mistake could lead to a huge difference in distance.
7 – Set off and you’ll eventually arrive within a few meters of the selected coordinates.

Your GPS device should also be able to tell your coordinates and this is a great way to share your location to anyone you may be meeting who also has a GPS and most smart phones should have a “Share My Location” option built in.

It’s unlikely coordinates will become a standardised way of sharing addresses, for the next generation or two anyway. Although the coordinate system is nothing new, handheld consumer devices being able to take advantage of them is and maybe they’ll be more widely implemented in the coming years.

Like, Review and Follow VanTasks!

Vantasks social follow twitter

I’m currently trying to build on a number of avenues backed by customer feedback and support as outlined below and would very much appreciate any amount of help from anyone I’ve completed a move for!

http://maps.google.com/maps/place?cid=9529551243965522023 – Place page on Google where you can rate and review the service you received.
http://FaceBook.com/VanTasks – Like us for updates, regular competitions, raffles and promotions. Suggesting friends to “like” us would be greatly appreciated too!
http://Twitter.com/VanTasks – Follow us for tweets and updates on traffic, transport and general ramblings.
http://VanTasks.ie – Add us to your Google +1’s by clicking the +1 button at the bottom of the page.

Mention your own website, page or business and I can like or follow you too, as well as adding a link on the VanTasks feedback page along with your review, great for SEO!

Any support will be greatly appreciated 🙂

Commercial Tax Renewal Heads Up!

There always seems to be some issue every time I go to the tax office. I’ve had to get a declaration stating an Astra coming from private tax to commercial when I bought it was for commercial use, so had to go to the Garda station to get a form stamped etc, that was fine.

My other vans were never requested to have this as they were always taxed as commercial (can you even tax a Transit privately?), as annoying as it is having to go to the tax office every time you want to renew commercial tax, this time I was asked to fill in the same form for the goods declaration and was told they have clamped down on it and the vans needed the same form. Because of this I didn’t get it all done in one day so went back today with everything, or so I thought. Turns out my VAT registration document I had with me wasn’t good enough as it was too old and any tradesman could still have this even if they’ve gone out of business and don’t use their vehicle commercially anymore, so now I need to get something more recent before I can tax it again. There is nothing stated on the form saying it needs to be within the last X months etc.

So that will be day 3 going to the tax office. Why the tax office and revenue can’t communicate with eachother to indeed ascertain that I am in business is beyond me in this day and age, furthermore, why they can’t communicate the validity of my DOE and enable the whole process (bar the once off Garda stamp) to be completed online is also beyond me.

Truck Overturned on M50 Flyover Spills Sand to Southbound lanes

Truck Overturned on M50 Flyover Spills Sand to Southbound lanes

Quick post just publishing a video taken today with my dash cam on the M50 after a truck overturned on the N7 outbound with a load of sand. The sand spilled over onto the lanes of the M50 southbound below. It’s just lucky it wasn’t a load of bricks or something that could have cause any major carnage!

Revenue to clamp down on VRT workaround.

From the Irish Times it appears that Revenue are clamping down to cut out the trick of getting a vehicle into Ireland with the minimum VRT price by converting to a commercial and then back to a passenger vehicle.

DAVID LABANYI

Changes to Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) rules for commercial vehicle to be introduced next year are set to end the common practice here of converting passenger cars and SUVs in order to benefit from lower tax.

The planned changes will effectively remove the discretion from car buyers or local garages to convert individual vehicles.

The Revenue Commissioners and Department of Finance are planning to introduce a “type approval” system.

This will mean that only vehicles with prior approval for commercial use can be registered as such.

A Revenue spokesman said the change was designed to bring the State into line with a number of European Directives on vehicle classification and would come into force on January 1st.

Provision for the change was included in the Finance Act 2010.

It is hoped the move will largely eliminate the practice of converting high-value passenger SUVs to commercial vehicles before purchase or importation, with some people then converting them back again to passenger vehicles, having benefitted from the VRT savings.

A major reason for the popularity of conversions is the significant differences in the VRT rates between passenger and commercial vehicles.

VRT on a passenger car can range from 14 per cent up to 36 per cent depending on the vehicle’s emissions.

However for large commercial vehicles VRT is charged at a flat rate of just €50 and for other commercial vehicles the rate is 13.3 per cent.

It is vehicles in this latter category, particularly some bigger-engined SUVs, that would qualify for substantial savings when granted the commercial rate, which are often converted from passenger formats after arrival here.

To date this year there were 6,624 vans and lorries registered, generating €331,200 in VRT while 523 other commercial vehicles registered generated €1.6 million.

Over a two-week period in April this year Revenue officials seized more than 323 vehicles as part of an investigation into VRT evasion.

The officials also challenged more than 3,279 vehicles – a process whereby they contest the whether it is a commercial vehicle – resulting in 384 warnings.

This led to 185 vehicles subsequently being registered.

Last year Revenue examined over 22,000 unregistered vehicles of which, just under 5,000 were found to be non-compliant.

Of these, 1,952 were seized leading to 50 prosecutions.

Alan Nolan, chief executive of the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (Simi), said the industry broadly approved of the changes but was in talks with Revenue and the department about some minor changes to the new criteria.

The Finance Bill proposes three VRT categories; M1 or passenger car, an N1 type or commercial vehicle with a 13.3 per cent VRT rate and an N2 type with VRT rate of €50.

“What we are concerned about is that certain types of commercial vehicles, such as small panel vans, which are essential to the small and medium enterprise sector may fall into the N1 category. These vehicles have always being in the €50 group.”

“We will have to wait for the Budget for confirmation but I think progress has been made on this and that some modifications may be introduced.”

He said while there were a number of bona fide vehicle conversion firms, the issue was with operators “on the fringes of the industry”.

“There have also been cases where the definition of a commercial vehicle has been challenged.

“For example, the definition of a car with no back seats and two doors is also a sports car. The changes will simplify this.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Finance confirmed the changes are planned to be introduced on January 1st.

As long as the €50 VRT for large commercial vans stays the same then I’m ok 😀

Drink Driving Limit Lowered

Last night, the drink driving limit was lowered in the Dáil.

From RTE.ie:

Thursday, 24 June 2010 08:42

The new lower drink-driving limit was passed in the Dáil last night.

Provision for a new acceptable blood alcohol limit of 50mg, replacing the current 80mg, is contained in the Road Traffic Bill.

The Bill passed through the Dáil last night but was not actually voted on as agreement on its contents was reached on all sides.

The Bill now moves to the Seanad where it is due to be dealt with next week.

The limit for learner and professional drivers has been cut from 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to 20mg and from 80mg to 50mg for other drivers.

Drivers caught over the limit would receive three penalty points and a €200 fine, if they do not challenge the conviction in court, but they would not receive a driving ban.

As a non drinker, this doesn’t effect me personally at all, but if I was a drinker I don’t think I’d ever be tempted to just have “the one”. It’s good to see it’s not an absolute ZERO though as I’d hate to say no to a lovely meal if it had a nice white wine sauce or even a bit of desert with an alcohol/vanilla flavouring 😀

Will it stop those who knowingly have far too much anyway? Probably not 🙁