Typically reserved for police cars in the U.S., dashboard cams are common civilian auto accessories in Russia.
One of the most awe-inspiring images of Friday's meteorite explosion in Russia came from a driver's dashboard cam.
It's not the first time a Russian dashboard video has made the news or gone viral.
"I tell everyone that they are absolutely essential,"Alexsei Dozorov, an activist with the Blue Bucket Brigade, a Russian motorists' rights group, told Radio Free Europe. "They make you your money back many times over. God forbid there is a car crash or a serious road infraction that could cost you your license. If you record everything with the dash cam, as well as conversations with traffic cops, then it will save you money. In [Russia] this thing is simply essential."
Dozorov himself has twice been bailed out by his dashboard camera, which cost around $200. In one incident, recounted by Dozorov to Radio Free Europe, a traffic cop pulled him over for running a red light. When Dozorov challenged the officer and showed him video footage of the violation, the policeman admitted there was none and left. In another instance, Dozorov's scooter — which was fitted with a camera — was hit by a motorist. Initially, Dozorov suspected the accident was his fault, but when he consulted with the camera, he discovered that the other driver was to blame. As a result, he was awarded about $1,000 in damages.
Why are there so many dashboard cameras in Russia?
Globally, Russia is one of the most corrupt nations. According to Transparency International, it ranks 133rd on a corrupt nations list, where No. 1 one is the least corrupt state. When polled, Russians said traffic enforcement was among the country's top three most-corrupt institutions.
In addition to steering clear of crooked traffic cops who demand cash for violations, motorists must also fear their fellow drivers, a rising number of whom are extortionists. The thieves work in teams to manufacture accidents and exact immediate compensation, according to Radio Free Europe. In one such scheme, a driver is overtaken by an aggressive car who then pulls in front of him and brakes, causing a fender bender. Typically, the con artist then exits his/her vehicle and violently demands money while threatening to call police. One such ploy, featured on YouTube, was foiled when the scam victim notified the extortionist of his dashboard camera. When successful, the gangs can rake in over $1,000 per day.
Violence also seeps into Russian roadways, as well. Hideous crashes are common and gory road rage incidents have become notorious. Dashboard cams have captured Russians wielding guns, bats and even axes following traffic disputes.
MSN News on Facebook and Twitter
Stay up to date on breaking news and current events.
Friend us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/news.msn
Follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/msnnews