MOSCOW — A jeep apparently hit by lightning. A old lady car key. and a driver launched from a KamAZ truck who lands on his feet without a scratch after colliding with another vehicle.
These, along with hair-raising car crashes and fights between drivers, are just a sample of the thousands of bizarre motoring incidents that have been inadvertently captured on video by Russian drivers and uploaded to sharing websites. of videos.
The videos are a quirky by-product of what has quickly become a major fad in Russia – the use of dash-mounted video cameras.
Motorists use these dash cams as a tool to fight off notoriously corrupt Russian traffic police as well as scammers who try to extort money from drivers.
WATCH: Spectacular Russian road accident recorded on dash cam
Dash cams film and record virtually everything that happens around a vehicle, making them essential equipment for Russian motorists. It is therefore not surprising that anti-corruption campaigners are singing their praises.
“You can get in your car without your pants on, but never without a dash cam,” says Aleksei Dozorov, an activist from the Blue Bucket Brigadea motorists’ rights group that has gained notoriety for combating Russian officials’ propensity to flout traffic rules.
“I tell everyone that they are absolutely essential,” adds Dozorov. “They give you back your money multiple times. God forbid there’s a car accident or a serious traffic violation that could cost you your license. If you record everything with the dash cam, as well as the conversations with traffic cops, then it save you money. [Russia] this thing is just essential.”
Dozorov has every reason to pay homage to the 6,000 ruble ($191) dash cam. It recently helped him escape what he describes as an unfair traffic ticket as well as a potentially large payment settlement.
Dozorov recounts an incident involving an inspector, which happened months ago when police stopped his car. “He accused me of running a red light,” says Dozorov. “It was enough for me to say, ‘I’m not going to argue. Let’s take a look at the dash cam. “At that point, the inspector said he probably made a mistake. He didn’t even bother to look. He apologized and left.
Dozorov loves dash cams so much that he bought himself two: one for his car and one for his scooter.
The latter paid dividends last summer, when he had an accident with a car while driving on the Garden Ring in central Moscow.
At first glance, Dozorov says, the accident appeared to be his fault and it looked like he would have to pay around 30,000 rubles ($955) in damages. However, using footage from his dash cam, Dozorov says he proved the driver of the car was to blame. As a result, he was awarded 33,000 ($1,049) in damages for his scooter.
Fight against scams
Dash cams have been marketed all over the world. They have become especially popular in Russia, although there are no statistics on how many motorists use the devices.
As well as helping motorists avoid traffic fines and unfounded accident regulations, the devices are invaluable in the fight against scams. Dozorov says extortionists working as a team to create crashes and collect quick settlements have become an increasingly common problem on Russian roads.
There is even an “autoscams” website called Avtopodstavka.ru, which details many types of schemes motorists should be aware of. According to the site, the gangs make around $1,000 a day and recommend drivers buy dash cams and study the various scams as a safety precaution.
A popular video posted on YouTube depicts an alleged extortionist overtaking a driver and then deliberately braking in front of him, causing a small fender bender. The alleged scammer then jumps out of the car and screams aggressively – until he finds out his victim has been recording everything on his dash cam.
He then flees hastily before the arrival of the police.