The meteor streaking across Russia this morning was largely captured by cameras mounted on car dashboards. Why do so many Russian drivers seem to have dash-cams? Protection against fraud & hit-and-runs. Kottke featured this article from Animal New York’s Marina Galperina back in December.
Dash-cam footage is the only real way to substantiate your claims in the court of law. Forget witnesses. Hit and runs are very common and insurance companies notoriously specialize in denying claims. Two-way insurance coverage is very expensive and almost completely unavailable for vehicles over ten years old-the drivers can only get basic liability. Get into a minor or major accident and expect the other party to lie to the police or better yet, flee after rear-ending you. Since your insurance won’t pay unless the offender is found and sued, you’ll see dash-cam videos of post hit and run pursuits for plate numbers.
And sometimes drivers back up or bump their pre-dented car into yours. It used to be a mob thing, with the accident-staging specialists working in groups. After the “accident,” the offending driver — often an elderly lady — is confronted by a crowd of “witnesses,” psychologically pressured and intimidated to pay up cash on the spot. Since the Age of the Dash-cam, hustle has withered from a flourishing enterprise to a dying trade, mainly thriving in the provinces where dash-cams are less prevalent.
Update: The other reason for the dash-cams? Russians are apparently crazy drivers. From the other previous Kottke Russian driving post: 13 minutes of can’t-look-away traffic accidents.