News / Calgary

Dash cams becoming more than a fad for some Calgary drivers

On a video posted to YouTube, it’s a normal looking scene at the intersection of 40 Ave NW and Crowchild Trail NW, but then poor timing and what appears to be misguided left-turn causes two cars to collide, sending one into a full 180.

“We caught that,” a voice says.

That voice belongs to James Porter, a Calgary resident who has been moderating a small online community where Calgarians can share footage captured by their dashboard cameras.

Porter said he has seen many close calls while driving on city streets and he hopes posting his footage online will give people a different perspective on poor driving.

“I don’t expect everybody to be 100 per cent perfect drivers, we all make mistakes,” he said.

“But some people when they do these things, they don’t realize how close that accident could have been, or how their behavior affected other people around them.”

“It’s nice to share these things so we can see as viewers and say, ‘look, these are the small things that if you’re more aware, then the roads would be a little bit safer.”

Porter, like many others who use dash cams, have the devices for peace of mind, but the practice of posting the footage online has become commonplace.

While the videos can be both entertaining and frightening in nature, Heather Mack, with the Insurance Bureau of Canada, said the footage could be an important tool following a crash.

“Dash cam footage would definitely be very helpful,” she said, noting motorists are always encouraged to get as much documentation as possible.

“If you, for example, felt that you were not at fault, you have that evidence to show to your insurer and that can protect you in a way.”

Dash cam video alone does not make concrete case

Traffic officials with the Calgary police say while a camera may assist them, even with a video, a full investigation needs to occur.

“It’s good supplementary evidence to support a charge, but it will not stand on its own in court,” said Staff Sgt. Paul Stacey of the CPS’ traffic unit.

“In order for us to lay a charge in court, you require human testimony to verify the authenticity of the video, when and where it was taken (and) under what conditions,” he said.

“Then we have to conduct and investigation and gather evidence.”

When asked about the footage being posted online in an attempt to highlight bad driving, he said it might influence other motorists.

“I think what you’re talking about there is shaming people into potentially complying with some safe practices on the road, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.”

“That’s almost self regulatory then and people can see how bad their driving actually looks and maybe curb their behaviors,” he said. “Anything that helps support traffic safety without resorting vigilantism is a wonderful.”

Samuel Scorah, managing partner with camera retailer, Calgary Dash Camera, said he’s seen demand for the devices amongst the public increase in recent years, noting he feels perceptions around portable cameras are changing.

“I definitely think that it started off as a fad, now its getting more into a necessity in people’s vehicles,” Scorah said.

“I think the fleet and commercial aspect … it's already a necessity.”

“For the everyday consumer, it’s getting there, but we find that people need still need the incentive — which is unfortunately an accident — to actually purchase a dash camera.”

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