VIDEO: Dashcams are ‘unbiased witness’ when bad things happen to good drivers

The cameras sell for between $200 and $500, and are becoming increasingly popular

In a video taken through the windshield of Dung Le’s 15-year-old Toyota Echo, an oncoming car breaks the monotony of a wide, nearly empty street on a quiet August morning in a sprawling residential Edmonton neighbourhood.

As it approaches, the car leaves its lane as though turning into a driveway, then straightens and aims head-on at Le’s car. There’s a crashing noise, the dashcam is jolted upward to focus on empty blue sky and a man’s voice is heard saying, “What happened? What happened?”

Le, who is originally from Vietnam, said the footage from his dashcam made it easy when downloaded later on to show exactly what had just happened.

“Lucky I had the dashcam camera when that lady went from the other side into my lane and hit my car. My car is a total writeoff,” the 52-year-old man said in an interview.

“My shoulder and my neck are in pain, sore.”

Dashboard cameras, commonly used in police cars and other emergency vehicles, are increasingly being installed in personal vehicles by motorists who want to bring along an impartial witness when they hit the road.

Camera sales and installations at AutoTemp’s south Calgary vehicle accessories shop are equally split these days between business vehicles and personal cars, said manager Tim Bruce.

“For a category that didn’t exist 10 years ago, it’s becoming more and more popular,” he said.

WATCH: Dangerous pass caught on dash cam near Salmon Arm

The units sell for between $200 and $500, he said. Installation, which involves running wires to the camera for power and fixing it in place, takes two to four hours.

Generally, the more expensive units have the most options, Bruce said, including a second camera for the back window, higher resolution picture quality, larger storage cards, GPS for estimating speed and Wifi connectivity so that the video can be downloaded to a cellphone.

The cameras start operating automatically when the car starts and run continuously but some are also activated when the engine is off if they detect motion or an impact, such as when the car is struck by a vandal or another vehicle, he said.

The memory cards are overwritten as they fill, so the owner has to save a file separately if he or she wants to keep it.

Customers buy cameras for old and news cars alike but Bruce said many come in after they’ve been involved in an accident or an insurance dispute where they wish they had dashcam video.

Insurance companies in Canada don’t offer premium discounts for dashcams yet, said Pete Karageorgos, director of consumer and industry relations for Ontario for the Insurance Bureau of Canada, but they might in future if they find the cameras reduce the risk of having to pay out a claim.

“Dashcams may, like GPS devices, be a distraction if they’re not properly used. So there’s that to be aware of and be concerned about,” he pointed out.

WATCH: Car flies across median, flips over edge of Brunette overpass

“On the other side of the coin, if someone is involved in a crash or they witness something, the good thing about having dashcam video is it really is an impartial and unbiased witness to the events.”

He recalled a case involving a collision on Highway 401 near Toronto where a vehicle stopped and then suddenly backed up and struck a following car. Typically, the driver of the following car would have been assumed to be at fault in what appeared to be a rear-end collision, but the dashcam video proved it was, in fact, a case of attempted fraud.

Le’s dashcam footage will make a huge difference in settling insurance and legal questions related to the case, said Edmonton personal injury lawyer Norm Assiff, who is representing Le.

Without the video, the other driver could claim Le was at fault, he said. An accident reconstruction after the fact might conclude both parties were somehow at fault and split liability.

In either case, his client could be on the hook for damages and face potential insurance rate hikes, Assiff said.

“In an injury case, which is my expertise, there are always two issues,” the lawyer said.

“The first issue is liability, who’s at fault? The second issue is quantum of damages, how much is the case worth, and causation, did the accident cause the injuries?”

From a legal perspective, there’s no privacy issue because the roadway is considered a public place, he said, adding courts typically consider dashcam video to be admissible as evidence.

Protection from dishonesty is the reason Dung Le bought his dashcam for about $69 from an Internet website about five years ago.

A friend of his who had been involved in an accident was confident the other party would be found liable, but a key witness then gave inaccurate testimony that led to the case going against him.

“A dashcam makes a lot more reliable witness,” Le summed up.

Dan Healing, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

First pot shop, more development coming to Lumby

Village growth includes bike park, plans for senior housing, hotel renos

Students call for climate change in the Okanagan and far beyond

Students from the Okanagan and around the world walked out of class in a call for climate action

Vernon Curling Club to kick off star-studded season

Talent, expertise and world champions will shine on local sheets

Shuswap elementary school suspends operations due to ‘musty odour’

Arrangements made for affected Sicamous students to attend class in three other schools

No injuries at car crash in front of Butcher Boys

It’s at least the second vehicle accident this September at the intersection

PHOTOS: Young protesters in B.C. and beyond demand climate change action

Many demonstaers were kids and teens who skipped school to take part

Walmart to quit selling e-cigarettes amid vaping backlash

U.S.’s largest retailer points to ‘growing’ complications in federal, state and local regulations

Climate protesters temporarily shut down road in downtown Kelowna

Protesters are demanding politicans take action to stop climate change

Security footage shows grab and go of cash in South Okanagan business break-in

Marla Black is asking for the public’s help in identifying the man who broke into Winemaster

Vehicle taken by gunpoint in South Okanagan carjacking recovered

Penticton RCMP said the criminal investigation remains very active and ongoing

Former B.C. lifeguard gets house arrest for possession of child porn

Cees Vanderniet of Grand Forks will serve six months of house arrest, then two years’ probation

Crown alleges resentment of ex-wife drove Oak Bay father to kill his daughters

Patrick Weir alleged in his closing arguments that Andrew Berry is responsible for the deaths of his daughters

How to react to Trudeau’s racist photos? With humility, B.C. prof says

‘We are now treating racism as a crime that you cannot recover from’

‘I’d do it again,’ says B.C. man who swam naked, drunk in Toronto shark tank

David Weaver, of Nelson, was drunk when he went to Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto on Oct. 12 2018

Most Read