When a meteor exploded over a Russian town in February, the heavenly body became an international superstar (no pun intended) thanks to a myriad of Internet videos, mostly posted by motorists whose dashboard cameras captured the event. Once we all got the stars out of our eyes, some observant Americans started asking a question: What is it with all these Russian dash-cams?
As it turns out, nearly all Russian cars have dashboard cameras. One of the reasons, according to a report on the Wired website, is that the legal system in Russia tends to give little credence to witness testimony in auto accident cases. But as they say, the camera never lies. So, despite producing rare moments of blazing brilliance, Mother Jones magazine points out that the Russian camera craze was touched off by what it calls the dullest of reasons: insurance.
That is not such a dull reason if you are trying to prove liability in an auto accident case. In one personal injury case in Texas, a woman was injured when her car struck a vehicle in front of her that unexpectedly turned left. The driver of the turning vehicle claimed a left-turn-only green light was in effect, but the injured woman said she had the green light to proceed straight ahead. Finally, it was discovered that a police cruiser, which just happened to be at the intersection at that moment, had captured the whole thing on its dash-cam. As a result of that lucky break, the victim was able to collect a substantial settlement.
Of course, motorists cannot rely on a camera-equipped police car to be in the right place at the right time when an accident occurs. That is one reason many observers are predicting that Americans will be the next to embark on a car camera craze.