Today’s incident involving a falling meteor in the Chelyabinsk region of Russia has resulted in an estimated 500 injuries. And while people are scrambling to figure out exactly what has happened in this remote area of the country, 900 miles from Moscow and near the Ural mountains, some of the more remarkable footage so far has been video shot by ordinary people, specifically with dashboard cameras.
The dash cam has become a familiar presence in Russia. It’s grown in popularity as a way for drivers to help protect themselves in cases where they have car accidents, or have been pulled over by corrupt police and demanded to pay “fines” for alleged illegal driving, by recording what it is that actually happened.
As Marina Galperina writes,
Dash-cam footage is the only real way to substantiate your claims in the court of law. Forget witnesses. Hit and runs are very common and insurance companies notoriously specialize in denying claims. Two-way insurance coverage is very expensive and almost completely unavailable for vehicles over ten years old–the drivers can only get basic liability. Get into a minor or major accident and expect the other party to lie to the police or better yet, flee after rear-ending you. Since your insurance won’t pay unless the offender is found and sued, you’ll see dash-cam videos of post hit and run pursuits for plate numbers.
It’s unclear how many of these are in use in Russia today: one estimate puts it around 1 million. Before today, people had already clocked the profusion of videos being posted to YouTube of road rage, gunfire, and terrible / random driving mishaps — all taken on dash cams. Now, they have become the accessories of citizen journalists.