Friday morning’s meteor fly-by took Russia by surprise as the 'shooting-star' exploded over the Ural Mountains, sending shockwaves that injured nearly 1,000 people. Lucky for the world, it was all captured live on video as hundreds of early-rising Russians recorded it on their dash-cams.
What is a dash-cam exactly and why do so many Russians have them?
A dash-cam is short for a camera mounted on the dashboard of a car. Russians have so many of them because they are the primary way of proving who is at fault in auto accidents. Russians have been installing them in increasing numbers as Russia’s car accident rates have skyrocketed to become some of the highest in the world, which according to the on-line source, RiaNovosti, amounted to over 107,000 in the period January – July 2012 alone.
Specifically, Russians are installing dash-cams in their cars in increasing numbers to protect themselves against wide-spread insurance fraud and to provide a witness. The cameras are also serving to guard against bribery and intimidation tactics used by the Russian Highway Patrol, which a large percentage of Russians consider to include some of the most corrupt officials in the country.
In addition to feisty personalities that often result in traffic brawls, Russians have to deal daily with a host of other traffic-related scams purposefully designed to extort money from their victims. Hit-and-run accidents are common as are car-related hustles. Conmen can make up to $1,000 a day by staging accidents and forcing drivers to settle up on the spot.
In other attempts to extort money from drivers, scam artists will purposefully back already- dented cars into other vehicles to shakedown drivers for settlement. And YouTube and other video sources shows footage of criminals who loiter on street corners and throw themselves onto moving cars, feigning injury and even rolling to the pavement, then demanding compensation.
Dash-cam footage is considered to be all-important in court, as it is fast becoming the accepted way for Russians to prove guilt or innocence. Adding to the problem is that most Russians cannot afford expensive and limited two-way insurance coverage for vehicles more than ten years old.
To learn more about Russian dash-cams and to view crazy footage of Russian road accidents filmed live, click here.