I’ve advocated the use of dash cams for probably six years now. A road rage incident near Springfield, Illinois one evening convinced me of the prudence and wisdom of having a visual record of events while driving. I bought one the next day and haven’t regretted it for a minute.
Since then, I’ve upgraded to a much higher resolution camera (near 4k quality with a Rove R2-4k) and been even happier. It’s a set-and-forget-until-you-need-it” system, and mine sits unobtrusively, mounted on the far side of my rear-view mirror.
It pays off… again.
On January 5th, a driver sideswiped me as I drove the munchkins to day care. He was probably traveling about 15 mph over the posted speed limit when he hit me.
The other driver hardly touched his brakes, much less stopped after the impact. Finally, with me behind him, he reconsidered upgrading the incident to a hit-and-run about a half-dozen blocks later and turned onto a side street. He pulled over as I spoke with a 9-1-1 dispatcher and pulled up behind his vehicle.
After sitting in his SUV for a minute or two, he emerged, unsteady on his feet as if quite intoxicated. I relayed that info to the dispatcher and continued to watch him.
Not only did he look intoxicated, but he looked very angry, too. Of course, his angry shouting was another tidbit of information law enforcement might consider a clue as to his aggressiveness.
I took the opportunity to back up almost to the intersection to create some additional distance. As I explained what I saw to the dispatcher, the man began to approach my vehicle in a wide arc, yelling more and physically posturing as if he wanted to fight. Yeah, he “leaked” lots of pre-violence indicators with his body language in addition to his verbal utterances.
Watching his hands as much as possible, I told him to get back (that’s the family-friendly version). Of course, the dispatcher was still on the other end of the call, sitting in her comfy office chair in a secure location. She was telling me not to engage the other driver. That was easy for her to say.
My first inclination was to go for my gun if he produced a weapon in his hands, but then I remembered I had a better tool under my right foot. Especially with toddlers in the car. Fortunately things didn’t get that far sideways.
I repeated for him to get the F back and that police were on the way. That’s when he returned to his SUV.
It turns out the man couldn’t produce proof of insurance (surprise!), which might explain his reluctance to stop. The officer said he investigated a whole lot of DUIs when he worked nights for five years and on this morning, the cop noted that didn’t see any overt signs of intoxication when speaking with the other driver.
I showed the officer the dash cam video on my phone. The camera left no doubt who was responsible for the collision, and that earned the other driver a pair of tickets – one for improper lane usage and another for failure to maintain insurance. The officer asked me to upload the video to the local PD evidence server, which I did.
Looking at the video a couple of times on a large monitor at home, the other driver’s unsteadiness on his feet might have been an old injury or disability, not impairment. The cop said he could see why my first inclination might have been intoxication given the wobbly gait of the other driver and the other circumstances.
On my side of things, we had no injuries and very little damage to my ride. I’m pretty sure I used up a lot of my good karma escaping without much damage or getting pushed into a head-on collision with that oncoming school bus which might have happened if he had hit me a couple seconds later.
The other SUV suffered some damage.
The kiddos were mildly traumatized less by the collision than by the confrontation. They were utterly unfamiliar with hearing daddy’s “assertive” voice dealing with an aggressor. Fortunately, they’re no longer talking about it on a regular basis.
Folks, for less than the cost of a speeding ticket, a dash cam makes all the difference in the world in dispassionately documenting what happens while you’re driving.
It affirms your version of events and at the same time protects you from false accusations, including claims that you were driving “aggressively” or threatening other drivers (verbally or with other “tools”). They can also document that you didn’t run a red light at an intersection.
If you drive like a decent human being, you need one of these. If you drive professionally, they become mandatory. And if you’re heavy-footed at times, you can turn off the recorded speed stamp.
If you have teenagers driving, that’s a whole new stack of reasons to put a dash cam in their car as well. It can help protect them from hit and run drivers (by recording license plate information), or from false accusations of wrongdoing in a crash. It can also instill a little common sense if they know you can review their driving to make sure they aren’t doing stupid stuff to potentially win stupid prizes.
In addition to all of the above reasons, dash cams will save a permanent record if someone attacks you in your vehicle.
Get a dash cam. Even if nothing bad happens to you, it’ll make for some amusing video if you hit a deer or slide off the road in an ice storm.
In Praise of the Dash Cam: Capturing An Angry Driver After a Collision is written by John Boch for www.thetruthaboutguns.com