The importance of dash cams in your car

In February of 2013, a meteor exploded in an air burst over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk.  The light from the meteor was brighter than the Sun and some eyewitnesses reported feeling intense heat from the fireball.  Around 1,500 people sought medical attention due to shattered glass from the meteor's shockwave and some 7,200 buildings in the region sustained damage.  However, the reason this meteor event went 'viral' on-line and in the news was because its flight arc was astonishingly well documented from different angles by several drivers' dash cams.

We're all familiar with dash cams from police TV shows and footage seen on the news, However, I wasn't aware that dash cams were commercially available until this Russian meteor incident.  It turns out that Russia has one of the highest car accident rates in the world.  It's been reported that hit-and-run crashes are fairly common in Russia, as are car-related hustles and insurance scams (such as pedestrians throwing themselves onto the hood of a slow moving car and claiming to be injured).  Apparently, dash cam footage is the only objective way to substantiate claims in Russian courts of law and almost all drivers in Russia now have dash cams mounted to their car windshields.

This has led to a subgenre of "Russian dash cam" videos on YouTube that are fascinating (and sometimes a little disturbing) to watch.  Watching these videos gives the viewer a perspective on what the Rule of Law is like in Russia and it certainly renews my appreciation for our society's Rule of Law here in the US.  On a more practical level, this got me thinking about my own auto insurance and personal liability needs.

I ended up getting a dash cam for my wife's car and my car.  We've had ours for a year and they give me an additional level of comfort for my family's personal liability protection.  Fortunately we haven't been in any accidents or needed it for any reason so far.  I liken it to having fire insurance for my house - I hope I never have the need for it, but if I do, I'll be glad that I have it.

When I researched getting my dash cams, I was surprised at their low utilization rate here in the United States.  It turns out the primary manufacturers of commerically available dash cams are from Korea, China and Taiwan.  Those companies then have US-based distributors for selling in the US market.  In addition, there are several cheaply made imitations/knockoffs of the brand-name dash cams in the market, and you can unsuspectingly get one even when ordering from reputable sources like Amazon.com.  (In fact, I had to return the first dash cam I bought from Amazon as it stopped working within 2 weeks.)  I relied on various on-line reviews of dash cams to select the one I eventually got from an established US distributor via Amazon.

There are different features available in a dash cam, including whether the video is recorded in high definition, whether the cam has GPS, whether the cam has an extra night vision mode for brightening details while recording at night, and so on.  A quick search on Amazon shows dash cams ranging from $30 - $200 depending on the brand and the features offered.  

As mentioned above, I value the potential liability protection my family gets from having dash cams in each family car.  I wanted to share information about this device with you so you can consider this to bolster your and your family's auto/personal liability planning.

And if you're looking for last-minute stocking stuffers or other presents for the holidays, perhaps this would make for a useful gift!

If you have any questions about dash cams or any other items regarding your wealth management planning, please let us know.  Thank you, and we hope you and your family are enjoying the holidays!