By on May 29, 2015

So I’m screwing around on the Internet the other day, minding my own business, and I come across this video of an accident with a red light runner.

For those of you who can’t or don’t want to watch this video, allow me to explain what happens. In one second, some guy is driving along in Anytown, USA, next to a mall, and a couple of shops, and some charming angled parking spots, and some nicely maintained grass. And in the next second, he goes through a green light and hits a person in a Mitsubishi Eclipse who has run the red light coming the other direction.

Now, any idiot can see what happened here. In one lane, you have the driver with the dash cam, who’s cruising along at a normal rate of speed like a normal person, abiding the law and doing everything by the book. And in the other lane, you have someone who chose to spend their hard-earned money on a Mitsubishi Eclipse.

So there’s a big crash, and the dash cam guy hits the Eclipse, and so does the car next to the dash cam guy, and then the Eclipse takes out a large number of power lines and other road peripherals before finally coming to a complete stop.

Now, here’s where it gets interesting: in the video description, the guy who uploaded it claims the Eclipse driver tried to say her light was green. Yes, that’s right: the woman enters an intersection at full tilt, takes out two cars coming perpendicular to her, and then she tries to say that she had the green light.

Obviously, her argument is idiotic – but one major reason why it’s easy to disprove her is because the guy with the dash cam had, well, a dash cam. So presumably when she was sitting there, staring over her damaged Eclipse, angry at the world for hurting such a precious ball of 4-cylinder joy, pissed off at the other drivers for running their red light, he says to her: “Bad news.” And then he plays back the tape of her blowing the red light as if she was Al Cowlings in the O.J. chase.

And this leads me to today’s question, which is: should we all just be driving with dash cams?

I say this because a) our society is rather litigious, and b) it can be tremendously hard to assign fault at the scene of an accident if you weren’t there to witness it. Say you’re a cop and you show up at an accident where one car has a damaged front end and another car has a damaged rear end. Rear end damage guy says he got hit from behind, while front end damage guy says the other person backed into him. Who do you believe?

It’s the same deal with traffic lights. Two cars enter an intersection, and they collide. Which one is at fault? Who ran the light? How do you assign fault? The answer is: it’s really hard. So you do the best you can, and maybe you make a mistake, and the driver who was ACTUALLY at fault gets off scot-free and sues the driver who WASN’T at fault for a sum of money roughly equal to the annual operating budget of Delaware.

If we were driving with dash cams, these problems would be a thing of the past. And indeed, that’s what they do in Russia. People are so worried about fraud, everyone has a dash cam. Now it’s installed in everything by default, so the fraud is over, and now there’s a record of virtually every accident in Russia, including the ones involving farm animals.

So I’ve started to wonder more and more if this sort of thing should maybe be applied to us here in good ol’ North America. No, we don’t have the same level of fraud as they do in Russia. But by God, we probably have about the same level of accidents. And wouldn’t it be nice, in an accident, to be able to look at the law enforcement officer on the scene and say, “Sorry, officer, I have it on tape”? Keep in mind that your other option is to be entirely at his mercy after he interviews everyone at the scene as if they were equals, even if they’re driving a Mitsubishi Eclipse.

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133 Comments on “QOTD: Should We All Be Driving Around With Dash Cams?...”


  • avatar

    I installed one in my Elantra just last week to protect myself against the idiotic and entitled pedestrians and bicyclists that run amok in my city with no inkling of self-preservation. “Oh look….white lines painted on the road. That means I can just step out and not look or anything.” The bicyclists are a whole ‘nother ball of wax. Most of them are okay but about 20% of them are certifiably crazy and will be the first to call the nearest ambulance chasing lawyer the moment you get near them. They also like to heave their big, heavy U-locks at windshields and generally create road rage mayhem with a vehicle that is hundreds of times heavier than they are. That being said, in the last five days, there have been five accidents involving bicycles in my city and the surrounding areas, two of which were fatal and occurred on the same street within blocks of each other.

    The above video proves why I believe the $75 I spent on my dash camera is worth every cent, even if it only saves my bacon once. It’s like having your own unbiased witness in the car with you at all times. He doesn’t get tired, he doesn’t lie and he’ll tell you exactly what happened over and over and over again without fault.

    Edit: If you go into the original clip on YouTube, you’ll see somebody posted a link to imgur that shows the Eclipse lady was texting on her phone at the moment of impact. Or better yet: http://i.imgur.com/oyI2LQo.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      But texting never hurt no one.

      I can’t believe how long that light was green for the dashcam driver before she came waltzing through the intersection. She hadn’t been looking at the road for quite some time. If I were the dashcam owner, I’d be sending a copy of that photo to her, matted and framed nicely alongside the Webster Dictionary’s official definition of the word “liar”.

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        A picture is worth a thousand words they said. And this is a prime example of that. She is CLEARLY not watching the road at all!

        I know someone running a dash cam, its tied to the ignition so it goes on/off along with the car’s engine. It records in a loop of like 10 minutes (programmable I believe) constantly overwriting old data. If you are in a crash you push a button and it saves the last 10 minutes, which you can then download. I don’t know the model number but the thing is tiny and is attached to the rear view mirror. The wires are tucked into the headliner.

        Given the STUPID stuff I’ve seen on the road running a dash cam is a great idea, but I’d want one out back as well for tailgaters. Plus you never know when its going to catch a meteor or a tornado.

        • 0 avatar
          mikedt

          Garmin now makes a GPS/dashcam combo unit that saves the last few minutes automatically when it detects an impact.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          JMII, all those features you mentioned are standard basically across the board on even the cheapest $20 units these days. Truly amazing how tech trickles down! mikedt, the cheapo units likewise have G-force detection, but most people find that they are set off even by road imperfections and hitting potholes so it ends up hard-saving a bunch of files and preventing the full use of memory as a consequence. I have mine set to 3 minute loops recording in full HD. About 700 megabytes per file, and I run a 16gb microSD card in it.

        • 0 avatar
          MBella

          They are really starting to be cheap and affordable. Most of them have batteries, but turn of after a few second delay. Definitely something to have in today’s world.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      That’s great that he has that still image.

      It should be recommended that those with dash cams keep quiet about the video, and if the other person lies about the incident they should be charged with fraud and given a lengthy license suspension for being a scoundrel.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Weimer

      Seattle or Portland?

      • 0 avatar

        Kansas City,
        https://www.google.com/maps/place/38°59'37.0%22N+94°35'58.0%22W/@38.9994702,-94.5936706,19z
        Wornall Rd and W Gregory Blvd.

        At least they have an Auto repair in front of them…
        Amazing how the runner seems not to mind the accident…he checks his watch and keeps running.

        I will certainly get at least 2 cams for our cars,
        Saludos from Mexico

    • 0 avatar
      mikedt

      Just the other day my friend and I were commenting on how cell phone usage while driving is a bigger danger than drunk driving ever was. With drunk driving, I felt I was fairly safe as long as I wasn’t out and about at 2pm on a Saturday night. Now, with every mouth breather more concerned with the latest tweet/txt/facebook post, it’s like 80% of the driving public is DUI all the time.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        And don’t forget drunk texters–a danger to you, themselves, AND their ex who is receiving the text.

      • 0 avatar
        Willyam

        Here here. And I recently saw an article stating that there are 37% or so more cars, and only 1% more roads than a few decades ago. So the problem is exacerbated by the lack of room on the roads as well.

        • 0 avatar
          Willyam

          I was wrong, 35%. It’s that article that says more stickers mark more aggressive drivers. Here’s the info:
          The volume of vehicles on US roads has gone up by 35% since 1987, whereas the road network has swelled by only 1%.

          In humans, as in many other species, overcrowding leads to increased territorial aggression, and the team suspected that this was what was happening on the roads.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Sounds like you’re describing Seattle…

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I use a camera when I commute. I bought a $5 suction cup camera mount and I use my Canon PowerShot point-and-shoot camera. The camera sits upside down but it works perfectly. It uses a battery which I have to recharge about every other day. I’m looking at getting another P&S camera as a dedicated dash cam since it’s a bit of a hassle to have one camera for my eBay pics and also my dash cam. Plus I’d like to run the camera more than just my commute.

    I have one interesting video that I kept, I usually delete everything once I get home or to work. The one I kept was of a motorcycle lane splitting at about 100mph in a 55 when I dropped my speed after seeing a cop in traffic ahead. I felt bad for the biker for the “instant karma” but you have to keep your eyes up.

    I used to be an insurance claims adjuster and having dash cam evidence would have made my job 100 times easier. The main problem is there are so many witnesses that refuse to stop and give their info after witnessing an accident. Often times both people legitimately think they were in the right so it’s hard to determine what really happened. The police aren’t the ones who determine liability but the accident report can make it harder for the adjuster to go against it. There were a couple times I had to find someone at fault when I really didn’t think they were simply because there wasn’t enough evidence to support my thinking.

    I decided to start using my camera because of my time as an adjuster but more specifically because of one day when I was driving home and someone nearly wrecked me and I got all road-ragey, after which I felt really ashamed of myself. The camera keeps me calmer since my actions as well as the other driver are documented. The last thing I want is to show someone cutting me off but then me tailgating them for the next 5 miles.

    In the case of this video it wouldn’t be too hard to pin it on the Eclipse without the video since it was hit by two cars. That means both people in the camera car’s lane would have had to run the red. That’s a quick fault to the Eclipse.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I most certainly do run a dash cam, I have since January of this year. For $55 dollars or so, you get a decent 1080p one these days. Basically no setup required, but I am mindful about taking it off the windshield when I’m parked. The last thing I need is a tweaker breaking a several hundred dollar window over a $50 made in China gadget. As a bonus, you get to record and save all of the idiotic episodes of driving you see to your computer to relish forever! I’ve also had an instance where someone cut me off in traffic and I ended up sitting behind them at a light. The passengers were making some rather rude gestures, I simply pointed up at the camera looking at them and they very quickly turned about-face and sat still.

  • avatar
    John R

    “…equal to the annual operating budget of Delaware.”

    Hey! Alright! We got a shout out! Take that Rhode Island!

  • avatar
    BunkerMan

    I purchased a Sony ActionCam last fall to use while off-road on my ATV. It came with a flat adhesive mount that didn’t make sense for the ATV or helmet, so I put it on my car’s dash.

    Because it’s meant for “action” it has steady cam and a nice fisheye lens. I love having it in the car and have recorded some interesting things while driving since I bought it. Luckily no accidents, though.

    The only downside to using it over a dedicated dash cam is that if it runs out of memory, it won’t automatically start recording over the oldest piece of video.

  • avatar
    dwford

    It’s time. We live in a litigious, low integrity society. Just yesterday I witnessed 3 crazy lane switching, tailgating drivers weaving all over the highway within the same 2 mile stretch of road. I’ve honestly never seen people tailgate so closely before, it was nuts.

  • avatar
    zaxxon25

    Anyone notice at 0:15 he passed a police car? Wonder if it was still behind him a minute later.

  • avatar
    an innocent man

    I don’t know. That’s a pretty wide open intersection. I think if dash cam guy had been paying attention at all, it was pretty obvious the Eclipse wasn’t going to stop. This accident seems almost avoidable. Clear your intersections and never assume the other person is stopping.

    • 0 avatar
      ScarecrowRepair

      Sounds to me like someone laid upon their horn after seeing the Eclipse come from the left and before the collision.

    • 0 avatar
      mitchw

      ‘Zactly. I escaped grievous injury a couple years ago because I looked to the left through a line of cars in the right lane for traffic in the open left lane before I went through a green light. I could tell that an oncoming driver was not slowing down, as she was likely blinded by the setting sun aligning with her red light. Apparently, the line of stopped cars to her right didn’t register. So I didn’t enter her lane, and watched her wiz by at about 35-40mph. It was a split second decision for me and I don’t see how a dash cam would have been of much help had I been T-boned.

      No points for guessing she was in a 3series BMW. If our videographer had been a little bit further forward he’d be in a body cast or under a sheet. Check your intersections, kids.

      • 0 avatar
        redliner

        ” If our videographer had been a little bit further forward he’d be in a body cast or under a sheet”

        Possible but not probable. The drier is in a Lexus LS. At typical speeds, that would not be fatal for either driver.

      • 0 avatar
        derekson

        The dash came would have been of help if you were T-boned because it would’ve recorded you entering the intersection with a green light before the hit. Even if the T-boning car hits you off-frame, the collision will be obvious in the recording.

    • 0 avatar
      JREwing

      The intersection is “wide open” except from the exact direction the red-light runner was coming from. Even if he was looking in that exact direction, and his foot was hovering over the brake, that still gives the driver MAYBE a second to stop, which is not nearly long enough at the 35mph (or so) pace the driver was going at.

      Maybe if all parties were doing 10mph, you could make the claim it was avoidable.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Dash cam guy almost got to a complete stop while Eclipse Girl had the texting tunnel vision and could’ve swerved a little to avoid him, if she’d seen him coming at the last second. The PT Cruiser would’ve cleaned her clock anyway though.

  • avatar
    FThorn

    I have dashcams in my cars. Mac users – google dashcamviewer. user at google dashcamtalk wrote it and needs/deserves y/our support.

  • avatar
    VW16v

    Sadly, yes we all should be using dash cams. Hard to trust anyone these days and I don’t ever see it getting any better.

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      Why don’t the cars that have cameras for collision avoidance and/or adaptive cruise control etc. not have automatic crash recording also as a function of the camera? It seems like it would be easy to add, and a useful feature, and would eliminate the need for 3rd party dash cams entirely in the future.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        because lasers and radar and stuff

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        After reading the post and these comments to this point, I Googled “add dashcam capability to Honda LDW” and got nothing but standalone cams.

        I, too, would think it would be easy to route the output from that device to a module with an SD card onboard. Only problem is that the LDW is only functional at 40mph or above. Is the camera still active even when the warnings aren’t?

  • avatar
    PeterKK

    How much are they. I have thought about it often. I think probably yes, it’d be nice.

    I bought an eclipse to commute in before my current car. What a mistake. Could write several blog posts about that car. Which tried to murder me on several occasions. Hateful thing.

    • 0 avatar
      FThorn

      you can find ‘good enough’ ones on eBay/amazon for $20. (and up).
      any of those would/could be better than NONE… then you can geek all out and start diving into high-end, multi-feature things.

  • avatar
    Zarf

    I recently purchased a body cam that I am using as a dash cam.
    I think TTAC should find a way to do a dash cam review for all of us loyal readers. When I was trying to find a cam the reviews are all over the place. One person says cam 1 is great and the next says it worked for 1 hour and died.

    A reliable testing source would be fantastic. The Truth About Dash Cams.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Quality varies wildly even among supposedly the same ‘model’ camera. The key is to buy from a reputable ebay/Amazon seller that has a source of the good ones. The issue is that the Chinese factories cranking these things out rip each other off even more than they rip off western products, so it’s “buyer beware.” I’d stay away from the $20, but like I said above, the $50-70 bracket has a lot of good ones, assuming you buy from a reputable source.

    • 0 avatar
      mechanical turk

      I’m a big fan of The Wirecutter for their tech gear reviews. I ended up going with their choice for a dash cam, the G1W, and it’s worked great for the year I’ve had it. If I had to do it again I’d probably get the one with the capacitor as I don’t see any disadvantage to it, but I’m happy with my purchase. In fact I probably will do it again since I should have an actual working engine in my Subaru soon.

      http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-dash-cam/

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Why not go for the least expensive GoPro, if it could be concealed well enough. Surprised someone hasn’t come up with an add-on to make it work in this role.

      • 0 avatar
        Japanese Buick

        Neither a GoPro nor any other attempt to use a nonspecialized camera is a workable solution in the real world. For a dash camera to be workable you have to be able to install it and then completely forget about it for months at a time until something happens that you need to get video of. This means:

        – You can’t have to keep up with changing/clearing memory cards that fill up. You need a design that automatically overwrites old data.
        – You can’t have to turn it on and off manually. It has to come on automatically when you start the car and go off automatically when you turn the car off
        – You can’t have to keep up with keeping batteries charged. It needs to be powered from the car
        – You can’t have to keep taking it down and reinstalling. So it can’t be an expensive camera that tempts thieves or that you think tempts theives

        If a dash cam setup doesn’t meet all those criteria it won’t work in the real world. Sure you might keep up with the manual steps at first but you will invariably slack off and then not have footage the one time you really need it.

        That is why a purpose designed dash cam is needed.

        • 0 avatar
          Splorg McGillicuddy

          You’re right that a dedicated dashcam will be better, but current GoPros do support some of those requirements, including looping video (overwriting old unwanted video). Google for current info on it.

  • avatar
    ScarecrowRepair

    I have been thinking for some time that it would be much better to control signals at an intersection with a four-way camera mounted over the intersection instead of installing those loops in the pavement. All the image processing software has to do is detect vehicles in lanes, and possibly make rough guesses as to speed. Politicians would love that it could even detect red right runners without much additional fuss.

    It would also provide a record of accidents, especially in cities with blocks short enough that the cameras could cover each other.

    • 0 avatar
      FThorn

      that has been in place for many areas for years. the look like cameras but just sense traffic.

    • 0 avatar
      Pahaska

      The intersection cameras are not perfect. I pulled up at a light the other day behind a fellow on a lightweight motorbike and wondered why he kept waving me to move forward. The camera was not detecting him and did not detect me until I was close enough to him to set off my front parking sensors.

    • 0 avatar
      econobiker

      I would argue that the vast bulk of traffic signals on low speed roads (40mph and under) need to be removed for the round-about. This would eliminate the disastrous T-bone type collision (substituting for glancing hits of cars driving same direction). The immediate benefit is that round-a-bouts would allow local governments to save huge amounts of taxpayer money on electricity, upkeep of the stop lights, upkeep of the loop infrastructure, etc. And it would benefit the citizens by not having to stop and wait while using gas but just pause and yield as required.
      Anyone who has had to pull up and wait for a late night traffic signal to cycle through as the ONLY car at an intersection will immediately understand the logic in this recommendation.

      • 0 avatar
        319583076

        If you’re the only vehicle at the intersection and you wait for the lights to cycle, you’re doing it wrong.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        Traffic circles have their place, but I think their supporters overestimate their applicability. For example, there are many places with too predominant traffic patters that are better served with biased lights than traffic circles.

        That said, people who program lights (like other govt contracts) are often incompetent.

      • 0 avatar
        haroldingpatrick

        Roundabouts work very well in many situations for reducing serious accidents, but as a civil engineer working for my state’s DOT I can assure you that people HATE them even more than four way stops. They want signalized intersections with protected left turn arrows.

        If you didn’t know it already, every community, city, county, and state is controlled by a very few people and the whole thing is rotten under the patriotic/democracy veneer. If a state house rep’s wife doesn’t want to drive her Range Rover through a roundabout taking the kids to school, the local road government agency isn’t going to put a roundabout in even if it makes the most sense. The road agency will “justify” what they do somehow if they can, but I can assure you that these people that have real power have no compunction about insisting a certain engineer be fired, forced to resign, or run off if they rock the boat. Most engineers are smart enough not to rock the boat and figure out how to reach a safe enough solution to public and political demands. If not, they get thrown out of the boat.

        Your government agencies are not as stupid as you think they are – they are serving their real customers desires, which isn’t always the same as the general public’s. They get what they want before everyone else does. There is no tooth fairy either.

        • 0 avatar
          319583076

          Correct me if I’m wrong, but roundabouts also obviate larger vehicle access, don’t they? Even if they don’t, the physical size of a roundabout to accomodate commercial vehicles has to reduce the economic argument based on eliminating powered lighting.

          • 0 avatar
            skygreenleopard

            Yup. Plus three inefficient signals in a row are more efficient than three roundabouts in a row.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Roundabouts are fantastic where there’s room for them. In built-up places, there usually isn’t room for them.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          A mini-roundabout can be a circle painted in the middle of the intersection or a slightly elevated hump that larger vehicles can easily drive over if they can’t go around it.

          At its most basic, a roundabout is simply a method of managing right-of-way that gives priority to the vehicle that is moving in the intersection and requires everyone entering the circle to yield. Any small intersection can be converted into a roundabout — think of it as a four-way yield, instead of a four-way stop.

          Roundabouts don’t work well when there are too many lanes approaching the circle. If there are more than two lanes entering the main circle, then it won’t work (although if there is enough room, right turn lanes that are separated from the main circle can help with this.)

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Roundabouts make too much sense, except Americans have trouble merging in while others are merging out. And merging out…

            The “Cloverleaf” freeway interchange failed for the same reason. Hence the 3rd level “Flyovers”.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            Multi-lane roundabouts are Darwin’s way of punishing the elderly for living so long past their reproduction stage.

            It’s almost as bad to see their visible terror as it is to deal with their cutting across your lane for the wrong exit so they have to come back and try again.

            If only Rod Serling were still with us.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    Absolutely going to get one. Hell I should’ve bought it already. I’ve had a few near misses just this spring, and it won’t get any better.

    With a teenager taking over my car next year, a backup cam and a dashcam are on the list of necessary equipment.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    “… and now there’s a record of virtually every accident in Russia, including the ones involving farm animals.”

    According to one Russian dash cam video I laughed about, you must add “and an occasional tank!”

    I’m thinking more and more about a dash cam these days as society continues its downward slide.

    If my long commute has any upside, it’s that on the highway, I’m against the majority of the traffic flow, however, it’s simply amazing to me just how selfish and “me first” many are when they get behind someone doing at least 5 or 10 over the legal limit.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I love the Russian dash cam video of the meteor and the driver who doesn’t bat an eye. It takes a much stranger thing than that to make them notice.

  • avatar
    319583076

    It depends: if your commute is entirely freeway/urban and you’re likely to be involved in an accident with another driver it makes sense, if your commute is rural and you’re likely to be involved in an accident with nature (deer, raccoon, turkey, dog, etc…) it might not. Of course, most vehicles will never be involved in an accident, so how long does it take to break even on a time and investment basis vice deductible and missed time due to an accident?

    I made the choice to abandon commuting on the former in favor of the latter (and was lucky enough to have that choice). Generally, the stupid behavior I see is suicidal animals entering or occupying the roadway rather than stupid/suicidal animals piloting vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      econobiker

      Actually the dash cam could potentially help pay for rural animal damage if the video is posted on youtube and goes viral to allow you to harvest money from enough clicks on it.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      Back in the 80s my father was driving through a rural part of the state for his job. he rounded a corner at 55 mph more or less and discovered a herd of stray cows in the middle of the road. He nailed one which rearranged all of the sheet metal and plastic on the front of his car. Didn’t hurt the cow at all. She gave him a look however that proved that cows could carry a grudge… ;)

      Fortunately he was able to connect the farmer via the co-op and was reimbursed.

      A camera would have been helpful had the farmer not been honest.

      • 0 avatar
        319583076

        The rule for rural driving is: drive what you see. i.e. – when cresting a hill, rounding a bend, etc. don’t assume the roadway is clear. Besides wild and domestic animals, there are driveways, and Gators, and tractors, and so on…

        The one reason I can think of for implementing a dash cam on my current commute is for the bozos who casually cross the center line and park facing oncoming traffic so they can retrieve their mail from the driver’s side of their vehicle. Yes, some of them do so behind the crest of a hill. Cresting that hill at the speed limit (50 mph) is probably going to be lethal for both drivers. I’ve gotten that “surprise” several times.

  • avatar
    an innocent man

    Forget the dash. I regularly travel I-81 in central PA, where semis like to ride 20″ off your tail, even though you’re already doing 20 over, and there’s 8 cars in front of you anyhow, and you ain’t going nowhere. I’ve thought of putting a cam on the back window, facing the rear. Make it easier for my wife to win the lawsuit, assuming the camera survives.

  • avatar
    an innocent man

    I just popped over to Consumer Reports, and the only cam they have a review on yet is the Magellan GPS that doubles as a dash cam. It’s expensive, at a listed retail of 230, but if you need to buy both anyhow…

    From the review:
    The RoadMate RM6230-LM Dash Cam stands out for integrating a dashboard-mounted video camera. It automatically records HD video and audio in an endless loop, and when a collision occurs, a built-in sensor locks video footage, location data, and date/time information prior to the incident to provided a record of events. You can also add an optional wireless back-up camera ($150) to provide that capability on an older or basic car.

  • avatar
    Pahaska

    My car (Genesis) already has a camera behind the rear view mirror as part of the lane-keeping, automatic headlights, and smart cruise control. It recognizes tail lights ahead of me by color. Wouldn’t it be great if the car would simply record the last few minutes on an endless loop that could be recovered in case of a collision. I would pay for that feature on a new car.

  • avatar
    DeeDub

    I wear a helmet cam on my motorcycle commute. Because it’s so noticeable hanging off the side of my helmet (looks like a military helicopter’s rocket pod) I’ve found the drivers around me on the highway actually behave a little better. Not as much of that “I’m bigger so you’ll be getting out of my way” bullsh*t.

  • avatar
    Sjalabais

    In every matter concerning privacy I am torn: A society of constant and total surveillance gives me the creeps. I’m almost convinced the intersection already has some sort of CCTV, which is amazingly common.

    On the other hand, a lot of these dashcam videos help clarify guilt. A Norwegian insurance very recently went on to say that dashcams will always only be used as “complementary evidence”, with all the normal process in such cases coming first.

    So…I see the benefits, but I don’t think it is needed.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    I’d prefer that these become mandatory instead of backup cameras.

    Fortunately, when some girl with 100% of her mental capacity devoted to a phone conversation (she was confused with no idea what had happened) drove through a red light into me, I had three witnesses. Two gave me contact info and the other stuck around and provided a report to the police. But while driving at quieter hours I’ve often thought while driving through an intersection of how I wouldn’t have those witnesses to rely on if such a thing happened at that moment.

    Can you get hidden ones? The only legitimate reason I can come up with for not having one is having to remove it all the time. – Ah yes, I see JMII noted that you can get little ones that attach to the back of the rear view mirror and are wired to the accessory or ignition.

    I once watched a motorcyclist drive through a green light and t-bone a car that had run the red. I wish I would have stopped and provided contact info. I didn’t because there were others already helping the guy – who appeared to be okay – and I was just a dumb teenager who didn’t realize how valuable witnesses are in that situation.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Again, it’d be real nice to be able to retrofit something to an existing camera that’s OEM-installed for lane-departure, active-cruise, auto-brake, etc.

      Hook that up to the “black box,” but make it independent of airbag deployment, and controllable via the driver. (It didn’t look like any popped in that video.)

  • avatar
    Pastor Glenn

    Afer looking a few times at the video, it is crystal clear that the driver with the dash cam was not going excessively fast, and tried his best to panic stop. Not sure if he laid on the horn or if it was the car beside him. But it was a futile thing to do!!! The driver int he Mitsubishi who was busy texting and paying NO attention at all, wasn’t going to be warned to get on her brakes by a horn….. “too late, Ethyl….” as the 70’s song said (“The Streak” if you care).

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    For everyone advocating dashcams, remember that video footage cuts both ways. Your video record can verify that you were not following all traffic laws and were partially/totally at fault, and you may not always be able to erase the video before it’s seized by a first responder.

    • 0 avatar
      DeeDub

      I’d like to see how far a seized video gets in a courtroom.

      • 0 avatar
        ClutchCarGo

        “I’d like to see how far a seized video gets in a courtroom.”

        I doubt that it would be much of a problem for the court, any more than the data stored in a car’s “black box” is. It’s an independent and very impartial witness. The greatest objection I can imagine is the prohibition against self-incrimination, and I think that could be overcome.

    • 0 avatar
      Undefinition

      Yeah, do we really want a record of ourselves acting like dorks, hooning here and there, getting rev happy on the occasional corner and twisty road?

    • 0 avatar
      ihatetrees

      Yes, in today’s “Three Felonies a Day” World, there is risk in self recording. I’ll take that risk, as would most enthusiasts at this site (I think).

      Recording most driving should, in after some time, reduce the excessive Stupid Factor in enforcement and encourage norms that actually enhance safety.

    • 0 avatar
      bryanska

      The solution is encrypted cards. Several things work in your favor with encrypted cards: SCOTUS ruled you don’t need to provide passwords or unlock your phone to aid law enforcement, if you plead the fifth. Also, you need only provide the portion of video relevant to your argument (again, by pleading the fifth you can say you’d rather not provide any more).

      Even better would be encrypted cards with automatic cloud uploading, AND tamper evident cases (so the cop can’t crack it and destroy the evidence).

  • avatar

    Good post. I definitely think it’s only a matter of time before they come standard. Now, we can say what we want about the erosion of privacy and civil liberties but with the uber-litigious society in which we live it comes down to protecting our own interests.

  • avatar

    My question (not that I anticipate being in such a fix) is the following: if you have a dash cam and it records the collision, are you or will you be legally required to turn in that footage, even if it could implicate you? If you cause an accident and you have a dash cam, could you just keep quiet about it?

    • 0 avatar

      Good point…not too sure on that.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      You own your cam’s footage. So you can do what you want with it.

    • 0 avatar
      econobiker

      Currently, you have the right to remain silent which means maintaining silence about your dash cam if no one else has seen it.
      But now your newer car’s onboard data can also be accessed (if it matters enough to one of the parties) such as the last 10 second prior to an airbag deployment…

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      No, you can’t, at least without exposing yourself to liability for contempt of court, perjury, or even obstruction of justice. If you have evidence that you should reasonably expect might be used in litigation, you have to retain it, and you have to produce it in discovery if requested.

    • 0 avatar
      Delta9A1

      Kyree, I was suprised it took so many comments before ClutchCarGo and you mentioned the “double-edged sword” issue. If you always drive the speed limit (not “with traffic” – the SPEED LIMIT), and you are never inattentive, then a dash cam is an easy choice. As dal20402 mentions below, you are likely to be charged with obstruction of justice if you destroy the video (speaking as a lawyer, but your criminal law may vary). A couple of years back a tandem hang-glider instructor forgot to clip in his passenger. She fell to her death. He had a helmet cam for client videos of the flight. He SWALLOWED the SD card upon landing. Police asked for the SD card. They held him in local jail until he passed it. Was charged with criminal negligence and obstruction of justice. So make your choice about dash cams with your eyes open.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        If it’s a serious enough crime (to be a suspect in), then isn’t it better to spend time in jail for “obstruction”, especially if you’re destroying the only incriminating/damning evidence?

        My friend had a bipolar, schizophrenic ex wife he was still seeing/dating/etc, but she would always threaten to accuse him of rape when she didn’t get her way or just on a tear. I said to secretly record her phone conversations when she goes off like that. He was too scared of wire-tapping, illegal in his state.

        So I reminded him that petty crime was a lot less serious than rape. So he recorded. She made good on her threats. The cop had him outside and about to slap the cuffs on him when he told him about the recordings and where to find them in the house. He told her what he was looking for behind the TV and asked her if she had anything to tell him. She broke out in tears and confessed the whole caper.

        No charges for either one of them.

  • avatar
    mjal

    Did anyone notice the jogger in the video after the accident who seems to be oblivious to the accident, casually going about his run?

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    In her “mind’s eye”, the dumb Eclipse driver really thinks she saw the light green for her.

    Good work by Dash Cam Guy. He almost got his truck completely stopped, before relatively minor impact. And he saw her long before she say him.

    But the PT Cruiser driver, likely with a blocked view, should’ve known better than to drive on through, while Dash Cam Guy was laying on the horn and standing on the brakes.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    The way I see it as a private citizen, the more records you have, the more you can get into trouble because of them.

    • 0 avatar
      EAF

      I agree with Twenty Eight, if you opt to use a dash cam; cool. I don’t want its use to be mandated however!

      Doug stop hating on the Mitsu, maybe it’s the 3.5 MiVec? Maybe the Eclipse ower’s other car is a Ferrari F355? Maybe he/she grew tired of the attention it draws, the driveways it scrapes, the expenses incurred from its use? ;)

  • avatar
    A Caving Ape

    I love mine! I did a full wiring job to the fuse box so now it turns on and off with the ignition, recording 3 minute clips and overwriting the oldest when needed. 64GB card. I have it suctioned on kind of above/in front of the rear view; makes it very unobtrusive.

    Haven’t yet needed it, but I figure that makes it the best time to get it set up.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      ” I did a full wiring job to the fuse box so now it turns on and off with the ignition, ”

      Huh? My $50 amazon special does that right from the factory, programmed in by default.

    • 0 avatar
      Waftable Torque aka Daniel Ho

      In our decade plus old Toyota and Lexi, the 12V turns off when the ignition is off. Almost all dash cams have batteries, and can be configured to turn off after a few seconds or a few minutes.

  • avatar
    slance66

    I wish I had one three years ago. Guy in a Mustang in front of me puts both left tires over the yellow line and comes to a near full stop. Turning left obviously. No turn signal in any event. So I slowly go around him on the right, only to have him take a very hard right turn into the driveway to my right, which was full of cars evidently necessitating his very slow, wide turn. Crunch. My fault per the cops. People right side pass similar cars stopped on or over the line hundreds of times a day on that road.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I AM DOUG BOT, I GENERATE QUESTION, I GET 100 COMMENTS MINIMUM, THANK YOU FOOLISH HUMANS.

  • avatar
    Waftable Torque aka Daniel Ho

    I’ve been running a dashcam for years. I bought mine in 2011 when they were expensive. If I were to buy a replacement, I would insist on 1080p or 1080i, since 480p resolution isn’t enough to read a license plate beyond 2-3 car lengths. And get the biggest SD card you can, because 4GB/hour doesn’t give you much capacity before it loops over.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    If the insurance companies were any smarter the’d offer free dash cams. The mere presence of one changes the driver’s behavior for the better, for obvious reasons.

    And I completely agree with someone above that the phone use is much worse today than DUI ever was. I don’t care what the measured stats say – I know what I see on the roads – a bunch of idiots tapping their brake lights, changing speeds with no apparent reason, etc. I am a white collar professional with two degrees and a job that involves handling many intellectual tasks at once. I am unable to even talk on the phone while driving – the drive during a conversation is a blur.

    And yes, Russia’s post-Soviet society is so used to daily lies and corrupt government officials that dash cams are a mere necessity.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Don’t talk to other people *in_the_car* while driving either.

      If you’re not very good at having a conversation and not so good at driving also, yeah don’t do them both at the same time.

      It really doesn’t matter if the person you’re talking to is on the phone or sitting next to you.

      I’m not saying I’m fabulous at either one, but I know driving is my #1 to #1,000+ top priority while driving.

      If it’s a DUI equivalent for some, they can’t prioritize properly.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I have been doing dash cam for a year now. Bought 2 cheap ones on sale for $70. they do fine job in 720p. One time it saved me from a big ticket for pedestrian crossing. But the cop still gave me $20 ticket hoping I will pay – and he was right. I was 6 hours from hometown. I wouldn’t go to court for $20.

    Dash cams could really save a lot of aggravation.

  • avatar
    KOKing

    I’ve been seriously thinking about getting one. My new car seems to have an OE accessory one in other markets so maybe it has some inconspicuous power provisions. And I’m not much for nanny state car regulations, but I’d welcome a dashcam mandate over blind-spot monitors, collision warnings, and others that IMO encourage inattention instead of discouraging f-ing around on the road.

    • 0 avatar
      gnekker

      I took an advice from http://www.techmoan.com/ and put Moebius in my 2 cars. I believe it is not only useful as an unbiased witness but also as a personal trainer – Sometimes when I feel provocation, i remind myself that camera is recording my behavior and my voice in the first place, so I should better calm down and behave.

  • avatar
    Signal11

    $30k+ in repair bills, two week hospital stay, month and a half of a E350 rental, not a nickel paid. Plus an easy settlement. Making a left turn on a protected green arrow, the other guy ran a red careened off of my front end and hit three cars in a parking lot. Completely hassle free experience with the police and the insurance companies.

    I have a two-channel, front/rear unit that does GPS tracking, g-sensor, motion detection (for when the car is parked for hit/runs).

    You can see the interface here: (Not my video.)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHgaHA3wX1U

    I think it’s silly not to have one.

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    1) Dash cams are good. I’m surprised they’re not standard or a factory option.

    2) The Mitsubishi … may have had a green light.

    I mean, the dashcam didn’t seem to show the cross light, and *lights sometimes show the wrong color*.

    I know this from nearly hitting someone while I was turning left on a green arrow … because oncoming traffic did not have the red it was *supposed to*, but a solid green.

    I was, quite reasonably, not expecting oncoming traffic to start moving, because I had an arrow.

    Likewise, they quite reasonably expected me to not turn in front of them like I had right of way, because green light.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      (In other words, dash cam here proves the taping driver was obeying the signal he saw and driving reasonably.

      It does *not* actually prove the other driver ran a light, though that is *almost certainly* what happened.

      It’s strong evidence and will mean they’ll have to have the city/county look at the light programming if they want to claim “I had a green”, though.)

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      She might (as well) claim that, but it’s not possible for a the green light to be given to 2 opposed or right angle (collision course of course) lanes. If the relay box shorted out, there would be no lights at all.

    • 0 avatar

      It is doubtful the Mitsubishi had a green. It may sound strange but one of my hobbies is traffic signals. I have a full setup in my garage complete with a street-grade controller and wiring panel, all legally acquired of course. Modern controllers like the one the PT Cruiser creamed have a conflict monitor (known in the industry as an MMU, malfunction management unit) that prevents conflicting greens from being displayed at the same time. If the controller DOES goof and try to do that, the conflict monitor will immediately put the controller into stop time, freezing it at the moment of error and throw the signals into flash, usually all-red to imitate a 4-way stop. Older mechanical controllers are more likely to suffer from conflicting errors but those that remain in service are vanishing quickly.

  • avatar
    bjchase55

    I’ve had a dash cam for about a year. Very wise purchase to have one. Although no accidents it’s nice to know it will be there as a witness. It also helped me identify a weird looking car by posting the video on FB. lol

    I got a good dash cam (Mobius 1080P HD), long USB cable, awesome suction mount, and a capacitor (replaces the battery for cooler running) for around $100. Best part it was from a US based website/store (SpyTecInc). No dealing with ebay or the Chineese equivalent.

    http://www.spytecinc.com/mobius-1080p-hd-action-camera-wide-angle.html

    The software is easy to use and updating the firmware through it is also a breeze. I use a 32GB micoSD card in 5 minute video segments. When the card is full it automatically overwrites the oldest file.

    The dash cam screws on to the suction mount so it’s easy to take the dash cam out of the car without having to always position the mount in the correct place.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    Here’s one of those situations where one of the despised redlight photo enforcement cameras would have came in quite handy. While it likely wouldn’t have prevented the accident, it would have provided irrefutable evidence that the woman in the Eclipse blithely ran the stoplight while distracted (texting).

    It’s truly sad that local agencies botched the installation of redlight cameras so badly by their overreaching greed (often instigated by the redlight companies to make their profit) by doing stuff like ‘shortening’ the length of the yellow light and using the cameras for right-turn-on-red violations for which no cop would ever issue a citation. When installed and set-up properly, redlight cameras actually work as intended.

    Speed enforcement cameras, OTOH, are a total scam.

  • avatar
    Japanese Buick

    Dashcams are a good idea but they are frustrating because they are so unreliable, at least the cheap ones are. I have tried many different ones and I often hit the same problem: When something interesting happened, I went to download the video and found it wasn’t there because the camera had stopped functioning days or weeks ago.

    A dash cam has to be able to be installed and completely forgotten for months at a time until you need a video from it. Any other mode simply isn’t practical.

    I think I finally find a good one, a wicked HD from Foscam. It was about $60. So far after a few months it’s good. Important feature is that is has a display so I can glance at it and verify it’s still working/recording. and it has a 1 year warranty so I look at it more like a dash cam annuity if the quality ends up sucking.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    “… cruising along at a normal rate of speed like a normal person…”

    Augh! Just say “cruising along at a normal speed.” Abolish this “rate of speed” nonsense and just call it “speed.” “Rate of speed” is a nonsense phrase perpetuated by tobacco-spitting hick sheriffs trying to make themselves sound smarter and more edumacated than they are. Stop using it!

    You and your writing are so much better than that!

    Good article and lots of good discussion in the comments.

  • avatar
    TDIGuy

    Saw a video recently where a scammer was letting his car roll back and hit the guy behind. They would then pull over and he would offer a “cash deal” to get his bumper fixed. Finally dinged a guy with a dash cam and you could tell by the background what was really happening.

    Unfortunately, the guy who posted the video didn’t blank out the license plates, so Youtube pulled it.

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