Photo/IllutrationDashboard cameras at Super Autobacs Shinonome in Tokyo’s Koto Ward (Katsunori Takahashi)

  • Photo/Illustraion

Dashboard cameras are chalking up brisk sales on the back of recent media coverage on the dangers of tailgating.

Annual sales topped 1 million units for the first time last year.

Super Autobacs Shinonome, a leading auto parts retailer in Tokyo’s Koto Ward, has a special dashcam section that features new product entries.

“The media focus on tailgating drove up sales of an item that was already popular,” said an Autobacs shop assistant. "We expect sales to remain brisk for months to come.”

According to a Feb. 19 report by research company GfK Marketing Services Japan, 1.09 million dashcams were sold in 2017, up 38 percent year on year, a growth rate of 8 percentage points over the previous year.

The rise was particularly prominent in and after October, when tailgating was highlighted by the media following a spate of traffic accidents.

Sales rose 2.6-fold, 2.4-fold and 1.7-fold year on year in October, November and December, respectively.

At stores in the Autobacs chain, dashcams began selling like hotcakes after the media coverage. Sales at its outlets in Tokyo in October were 3.6 times higher than the year-earlier level.

High-performance models have been selling strongly since last autumn.

Dashcams are a lot more sophisticated than when they first came out. These days, they function not just as a video camera mounted on the dashboard or windscreen of a vehicle to continuously record the view of the road and traffic conditions but also are fitted at the rear to record any instances of tailgating.

Products in this category include 360-degree cameras with a fisheye lens and dual-camera models mounted both front and rear. They are selling particularly well.

According to GfK, more than 600 dashcam models offered by 70 or so manufacturers were marketed last year. While prices averaged 14,000 yen ($132), there was also high demand for dashcams priced between 30,000 yen and 50,000 yen.

Dashcam products that come with safety features are also drawing attention. One GPS-mounted model with “wrong-way monitoring” features is designed to display the letters “wrong way” on the dashcam screen and issue a warning if the driver enters an expressway from the wrong direction.

Some models feature pre-emptive warnings before a possible collision or a deviation from a lane as an added safety precaution.