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Saturday September 5 2015
8:15 AM EDT
2014-03-07 at NOON

Strong evidence?

This screen capture of a dashboard camera video that showed two trucks nearly involved in a head-on crash on Highway 11 in January. The driver posted the video on YouTube, where it went viral.
Youtube.com
This screen capture of a dashboard camera video that showed two trucks nearly involved in a head-on crash on Highway 11 in January. The driver posted the video on YouTube, where it went viral.
By Jodi Lundmark, tbnewswatch.com

Despite the popularity of recent dashboard camera videos on social media sites, city police are wary of the usefulness of the devices in personal vehicles.

Traffic Sgt. Glenn Porter says the dash cams are useful in police cruisers, but in people's personal vehicles, they're can be just another gadget to distract drivers.

"There are laws that prohibit a screen from being visible to the driver," said Porter.

However, there are camera models that don't have a screen to distract drivers and those are legal.

When it comes to the footage being used to determine who is at fault in a collision, that's a question for the courts, said Porter.

"Evidence is only evidence if a judge says it's evidence," he said.

"We, as police, know that. It's basic police work ... A lot of people I'm sure are going to be coming up with these videos saying 'here you go, this is bulletproof and ironclad and you should be able to get a conviction with it,' but there are a lot of steps that have to be taken before that can be done."

Porter said he expects there will be constitutional questions about proper search and seizure that comes out of the rise in popularity of the cameras.

Dashboard cameras have been popular in Russia and other parts of Europe and Asia for a few years now; the demand in Ontario is still new.

Bruce Stone and his wife each have a dash cam in their vehicles. The Arthur Street Canadian Tire dealer said they decided to get the cameras installed after a few close calls.

They're a new item for the store and Stone said they've sold three or four so far.

"They're just starting to take off and I expect we will sell even more of them," he said, noting the recent media attention on viral videos of collisions and near-collisions on northern highways is likely to increase interest in the product.

Insurance Brokers Association of Northwestern Ontario's past president Jeff Jones said the cameras are helpful in eliminating the guesswork around the circumstances of a collision.

They are especially helpful in insurance fraud investigations, particularly in highly populated areas for incidents when people throw themselves in front of a moving vehicle.

"When involved in an accident, they can clear the air of what really happened," said Jones.

And while he doesn't know of any providers that offer incentives for having a dash cam, Jones said they can save Ontario drivers in the long-term on premiums.

"This can help with price reduction because it eliminates the fraud portion," he said.

In 2010, the Ontario insurance industry spent $1.6 billion on fraud costs, added Jones.

 


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