The Dash It All Cam

untitled-1If you are involved in a motor car accident these days you are more likely to be saved from physical injury by airbags and inertia reel restraints than you were in the last century. You are more likely, also, to be financially injured by spurious legal claims – unless you have a way of proving your innocence.

Short of strapping a magistrate, a nun, and a Boy Scout into the seats of your car every time you venture out, you are at the mercy of what others may say about your driving. Lies are not unknown in motor vehicle litigation, and people have taken to attaching self-recording action cameras to their vehicles in an effort to get concrete evidence. In some cases I think they would be better to strap on actual concrete blocks.

The action camera, in whatever form it takes, is a limited resource – limited in what it sees and for how long it can watch. It is notorious for being out of battery just when the interesting bit occurs. It can also suffer failure to record for other reasons, or fail to record with enough detail to useful. The problem of where to look can be solved by adding additional cameras looking in different directions – but what a pain to remember to synchronise them and/or recharge batteries – and to keep the lenses clean. Also to keep the delicate things from frying in the Western Australian sun inside a closed car.

The final two indignities that can be suffered are burglary, if the dash cam is not de-mounted and stored each time you exit the vehicle, and legal skepticism on the part of attorneys as to whether the footage depicted is even admissible as evidence. Still pictures taken on infinitely more complex cameras can be doctored to a fare-thee-well in Photoshop and other programs, so how much can be done with tiny files from the action camera?

I should propose a better system – by all means record what happens front, back, and sides as the car is going. But do it from fixed lenses at the bonnet, boot and roofline edges, that have electrical signals fed into a central black box recorder in the dash of the car. It could be made strong enough – in the manner of the aviation black box – to withstand most crashes short of a Hollywood bomb. But it could be a sealed unit with enough memory onboard to record 6 hours of video from each edge. It should be legally sealed so that there could be no deliberate tampering and the memory unit could be taken out by police or court order to be tendered as evidence. It could be programmed to reset after 6 hours unless a “save” command was initiated and then the only way for that command to be over-ridden would be with an electronic key from the police.

It should stop the he said/she said arguments cold as well as the deliberate falsifications.



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