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Ownership Will Someone Else’s Dashcam Impact You?

11:39  05 october  2017
11:39  05 october  2017 Source:   roadandtrack.com

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Dashcams could put law enforcement in the hands of the everyman and set a troubling precedent.

As someone who spent many an evening prank-calling my fellow university students, I have to say that to me the potential to game and/or abuse this The officer explains to you that the driver you cut off sent his dashcam record to the local police station and it was sufficient to have you convicted in

Can Someone Else’s Dashcam Impact Your Driving Record?© Hearst Communications, Inc. All rights reserved Can Someone Else’s Dashcam Impact Your Driving Record?

Imagine this scenario, if you will: It’s a lazy Saturday afternoon at your house and you’re scrubbing your Nissan GT-R or Corvette or MG Midget in the driveway. You notice there’s a state trooper driving down your road, which is odd because your road is not a state highway of any sort. He pulls into your driveway and steps out holding a piece of paper.

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“Mr. Jones,” he says, waving the paper in your direction, “you have been reported to the State Aggressive Driving Registry by five separate drivers. I’m here to remind you to be careful on the road and to keep a clear assured distance.”

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“Am I getting a ticket?” you ask. This is all very surprising to you, because ever since you became a committed trackday enthusiast five years ago you rarely exceed the speed limit by more than five or ten miles per hour and you maintain absolute Zen-like calm behind the wheel.

“No sir, we don’t write tickets for reports... Not yet, anyway,” the trooper responds, before turning his head towards your car and saying, “But as long as I’m here, I’d like to to talk to you about your car. Is that window tint legal? When was the last time you got an emissions check?”

The whole scenario sounds like the fantasy of some paranoid drivers’-rights type, if you ask me. Except that it’s really happening in Colorado. The state maintains a secret “aggressive driver” database. If three drivers report you, the state will send you a letter. If five drivers report you, chances are you will get a visit from a state trooper. Ask any competent defense attorney out there and they will tell you that it’s never a good idea to have unnecessary interactions with the police in an era where most people, and most motorists, are unwittingly in violation of one law or another.

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As someone who spent many an evening prank-calling my fellow university students, I have to say that to me the potential to game and/or abuse this system seems enormous. Are you angry with somebody? Pick up a couple prepaid phones and call ‘em in to the aggressive-driving number. Anything could happen. They could get caught speeding and wind up getting a ticket instead of a warning because they’re on the database.

There’s no way that a program like this won’t lead to an increase in the number of citations written

There’s no way that a program like this won’t lead to an increase in the number of citations written–which means that the auto-insurance industry will eventually make sure that every state has it, including yours. They will say that there is no violation of your right to due process since no tickets are written based on unverified third-party reports. What they won’t say is that it will change the nature of police interactions with certain drivers.

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If you have a loud Harley or Vette that annoys the Prius driver next to you in traffic? Well, isn’t that aggressive? You should be reported. Did you use Launch Control from a stoplight? Maybe the driver of the car behind you didn’t like that, so pow! Another brick in the wall.

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Here’s another scenario for you: You and your friend work for a car dealership and you’ve got a couple of traded-in cars that you decide you’re going to goof around with. You head out to the freeway and do a couple of “roll races” from 40 to 70mph. When a driver behind you is annoyed with your behavior, you cut him off as he attempts to pass.

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A week or so later, the local police show up at the dealership with reckless-driving citations for both you and your friend. You don’t understand how it happened–after all, you didn’t see any cops around at the time. The officer explains to you that the driver you cut off sent his dashcam record to the local police station and it was sufficient to have you convicted in absentia. The citation sends your insurance through the roof and you are pretty sure both you and your friend are going to be looking for new jobs next week.

As you’ve already guessed, this too is a real scenario, albeit one that happened in the UK. One of the writers for Top Gear magazine used the built-in dashcam in a press-fleet Citroen to obtain two aggressive-driving convictions for a pair of dealership employees who held him up in traffic with their admittedly stupid roll-racing shenanigans. After reading about this in Top Gear's August issue, I made a couple of calls to my local police agencies, who told me in no uncertain terms that they aren’t interested in playing Junior Detective with any dashcam footage that I supply. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, however, will take your video as evidence and will “launch an investigation” as a result if they feel that it’s warranted. Drivers have submitted independent dashcam footage to Canadian authorities and action has been taken as a result.

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Dashcam startup Waylens is already working on a followup product to the Horizon, a sharp-looking camera for your car’ s dashboard that was released late last year. The new camera is called the Secure360 and, you guessed it, it’ s a dashcam that shoots 360-degree photos and videos.

The problem is that the proverbial slippery slopes happen all the time in traffic enforcement.

Obviously nobody has any sympathy for people who get caught racing on the freeway or endangering innocent people with aggressive driving. The problem is that the proverbial slippery slopes happen all the time in traffic enforcement. Most of today’s seatbelt laws were passed with the understanding that it would be a “secondary enforcement” situation; in other words, if you get pulled over for another reason, you can be additionally ticketed for not wearing a seatbelt. Well, it’s now a “primary enforcement” offense in many states.

Some time ago, I had a conversation with an attorney who decided to spend an afternoon riding shotgun with a state trooper doing primary seatbelt enforcement. It worked pretty much like this: The cop sat in the median and eyeballed people driving by to see if they had their belts on. If they didn’t, he pulled them over and then he started looking for other violations. According to my attorney friend, this particular trooper was amazingly sharp and was never wrong about the driver not wearing a seatbelt. Your mileage, as they say, may vary.

Most modern dashcams have GPS capabilities, which means they can estimate speed. It’s easy to imagine a million CR-Vs and Priuses and whatnot out there driven by the Whole Foods crowd, all rolling down the freeway at the exact speed limit and recording that fact. When you pass them in your Pagani Zonda… well, they’re doing the speed limit and you’re passing them, right? It’s proof positive of speeding for any court that is willing to accept dashcam records.

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If you did rear-end someone , and an action is brought against you , your dashcam footage could be the The video may not capture the offending vehicle or the point of impact , it might be too blurry, or it just Ultimately, whether you should get a dashcam or not is highly dependent on your driving habits.

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Now let’s really get crazy for a moment. Imagine a private/public partnership like the infamous Chicago red-light camera situation. Only in this partnership, YOU are the private half. You, and fifty million drivers just like you, drive around at the speed limit with your dashcams on. If your dashcam sees a car speeding past you, it automatically sends the data to the cloud, a speeding ticket is written, and you get a cut of that action. Crazy, right? Yet that’s precisely the deal that speeding-camera operators have with their municipalities.

Some entrepreneur is going to read this column and realize that you could make a zillion dollars by sending “certified” dashcams to every hybrid owner in the Chicago or New York area then cutting a deal with the city to split traffic-ticket revenue. The city gets fifty percent, the reporting driver gets twenty-five percent, and the middleman gets twenty-five percent. The insurance companies would love it. They might even help fund the dashcams.

Luckily for us, plenty of courts in the United States have come down hard on revenue schemes like that. The news isn’t as good for drivers in other countries; ask any British driver who has ever been dinged for “Average speed in a zone” by the automated systems in rural England. American drivers like to gripe about our roads and our fellow drivers and SUVs and tractor-trailers blocking the whole road, but we do enjoy some important freedoms and protections. It’s worth dropping an occasional note to your elected representatives to remind them of that fact. In this country, we watch Big Brother, not the other way ‘round. Let’s keep it that way.

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