While you could easily put a camera in just about anything these days, it actually makes sense to have one in your car. Think about it: We see so many acts of unbelievable stupidity on the road. Doesn't it make sense to keep a visual record?
That guy who cut you off to make an illegal U-turn? Recorded. That incredibly rare Bentley that you were driving behind? Now you can gawk at it with your friends. Bigfoot crossed the road in front of you? Time to put it on YouTube.
Enter the dashcam, a device that's exactly what the name implies: a camera that goes on your car's dashboard. These devices have achieved massive popularity in Russia, where video evidence of traffic accidents is preferable to spoken testimony in court. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth... well, the math is making our heads spin.
Below we've compiled the six best reasons to own a dashcam, with the requisite video evidence to back up our claims. And if these clips give you the urge to start recording on your own, check out DashCamTalk's guide, as well as this handy roundup from The Wirecutter, to see if there's a car camera that fits your budget.
1. Driving Accidents
Getting into a car accident is one of the worst experiences imaginable. If no one is seriously injured, then the blame game starts. "You cut me off!" "You shouldn't have braked so hard!" "I'm calling my lawyer!"
No, no, and no. We want to avoid all of this nonsense. Installing a dashcam can prevent many post-accident legal headaches by recording the facts. The driver in the above video was nearly driven off the road by a guy in a Hummer, but since he had the entire ordeal recorded, he was able to deliver an airtight case to the police. The Hummer-driver in question had 18 points added to his driving record, which is enough for a license suspension in some states.
2. Parking Accidents
Sometimes the most dangerous place for your car is a parking garage. The car next to you might scrape yours when pulling out, or even worse, your ride could get vandalized.
When you leave your vehicle unattended—whether in a parking garage or your own driveway—you have no idea what could happen to it. The beauty of dashcams is that they don't have to stop recording when you park your car. Since many are battery operated, you can leave these cameras on while you're away.
The YouTube video above shows one person who did just that. The car—a beautiful Scion FR-S—is sitting peacefully in a garage when a minivan pulls around the corner and sideswipes it. Thankfully, the dashcam footage captured the entire incident.
3. Insurance Fraud
(Warning: The above video includes several serious injuries. Viewer discretion is advised.)
Getting involved in an accident with a pedestrian is one of my worst fears. Confession time: Whenever I hit a big pothole at night, a little part of me is terrified I've run over a person. And believe it or not, there are people out there who actively try to get hit by oncoming traffic—they're happy to accept a broken arm in exchange for a fat insurance settlement.
The video compilation above showcases a number of insurance-scamming Russian pedestrians who purposefully run into traffic in order to get hit by a car. Some of them just sprint toward moving cars and bounce off the hood or windshield. Some simply fall down in front of a parked car and get up feigning injuries. Thank goodness for dashcams! With video evidence like this, you'd actually stand a chance in court if someone tried to pull a fast one on you.
4. Showing Off Your Driving Skills
Dashcams don't have to be used for crashes, scuffles, and dustups. Occasionally these car-ready cameras record some pretty unbelievable footage of sheer driving skills.
Lots of enthusiasts use their dashcams to record autocross runs, trackdays, and questionable excursions on local public roads. But sometimes moments of brilliant driving can be... less premeditated.
This video highlights a South Korean driver who headed up a hill only to encounter a runaway truck. What was sure to be a terrible collision instead showcases the talent of the cam owner. The driver immediately puts his car in reverse and navigates to safety, all while the truck barrels uncontrollably forward.
(Bonus points for the acoustic "Gangnam Style" cover playing in the background.)
5. Documenting Your Road Trip
Some of the best vacations I've taken have been road trips. What begins as a means to get from Point A to Point B often turns into an unforgettable journey. You always end up finding something weird, exciting, or both on the way—something that you never planned for.
This slightly cheesy, incredibly weird, but inexplicably endearing video of a man searching for the best club sandwich in America is a perfect example of how a dashcam can be used to record your own adventure. Sure, the quest for an awesome club sandwich is pretty compelling on its own, but the sights and change of scenery along the way quickly become the real focus of the video.
What are you waiting for? Start recording your own adventure!
6. Capturing the Unexpected
If you own a dashcam, it's probably wise to use pretty much 24/7. While the prime motivator is your own safety and legal protection, you can also capture some pretty unbelievable footage just by keeping these cameras powered on.
You've probably heard about the Chelyabinsk meteor that flew over Russia this past February. There are plenty of videos of this spectacular event, primarily because so many drivers in Russia use dashcams. One of the best was captured by a parked car, which happened to have its dashcam on. You can see the meteor as it enters the earth's atmosphere and soars past the landscape. Face it: If you took this video, it would be one of the highlights of your life.
Have any dashcam footage you'd like to share with us? Let us know in the comments.
[Hero image: Wikimedia Commons]