Driving any type of car brings with it a wide range of risks that can’t be ignored. Even if you’re totally confident in your own driving abilities, you still have literally every other person on the road to worry about—and one person’s single moment of inaction or carelessness can cost you dearly before you even realize you have a problem. Likewise, elements like inclement weather will always exist, and mistakes do happen, as even the best drivers can attest.

Dash CameraIn an effort to improve both their own safety and the accountability of others, many people have taken to purchasing dash cams in recent years. Once something of a novelty, the technology appears ready for prime time—these devices, which can often record HD video of the action in front of your car and even come with additional features like GPS or automatic collision detection—may be purchased for just a few hundred dollars either in local electronics stores or on the internet.

People also seem to have noticed this in a big, big way, if Google’s 2018 Automotive Trends Report is anything to go by. The search engine giant reported there has been a massive spike in dash cam searches and purchasing in the first three months of 2018 alone for a number of reasons, all worth exploring.

Google’s Trends Report: Breaking Down the Facts

First, consider some backstory. Google’s Automotive Trends Report, much like various other reports it often issues, is designed to deliver insight into what people are searching for and—most importantly—why. This type of reporting is often used in election years, for example, to see which presidential candidate is being searched for more, in an effort to predict election results based on consumer behaviors.

The same concept is true for the Automotive Trends Report, which in 2018 has already shown people are searching for “dash cams” about three times more than for terms like “autonomous driving” or “self-driving cars.” Google itself largely attributes this pattern to the fact that dash cams have just become so accessible in the last few years.

Even if you go back as recently as ten years ago, dash cams were still largely police-focused technologies. They began their rollout in law enforcement agencies around the country as an effort to both protect the lives of officers during routine traffic stops and increase police accountability as much as possible. During this time, even modest dash cams still cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Oh, what a difference a few years can make.

You don’t even have to go to any type of a specialty store to get your hands on a dash cam these days. You can order them from a wide range of retailers right online and have them delivered straight to your home. They’re not even that difficult to install anymore. You don’t need to pull apart your dashboard or have years of automotive electrical experience under your belt. Many modern-day models are totally wireless, meaning you just charge the internal battery, affix the camera itself to your dashboard or windshield, and you’re ready to go.

There are still a number of considerations one has to make before purchasing a dash cam, however. Factors like video resolution, amount of available onboard storage space, how easy a particular model is to use, and whether or not said model can film properly in instances of low light will all affect the ultimate quality—and price.

But when you consider just how far dash cams have come in the last few years, it’s truly easy to see why they’ve gotten so popular so quickly. As prices continue to drop and the tech itself continues to evolve, it’s exciting to think about what the next decade has in store for this still blossoming industry.