If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Thursday, 24 January 2013


Yesterday, I was on a short errand (in the car, as I had a load to carry) and had to pass the local college.  There is a roundabout with traffic lights to control entry, and pedestrian crossings by the lights.  As I approached the lights at green, I saw a young lad of about 16 waiting to cross the road.  I wasn't going to stop for him, as the traffic lights were green, which meant that his pedestrian light was red, and I was in a queue of traffic.  He looked me right in the eye as I approached.  There was no way he hadn't seen me.  And then, when I was about 10 metres away from him, he stepped out into the road in front of me.  I had already covered the brake in anticipation, so my emergency stop was a good one, ABS and all, being on a damp and greasy road surface.  He walked casually across in front of me and pulled a face at me.  I'm sorry to say I reacted by giving him a good old V-sign, and drove off.

It occurred to me later that, had I hit him and caused him injury (which was entirely possible in the circumstances, as I only pulled up about 2-3 metres away from him), I would have had a hell of a job convincing people (the police and the courts, mainly) that I was not driving carelessly or improperly.  Could I prove I was well within the speed limit and driving at a speed appropriate to the conditions?  Could I prove the lights were in my favour and that his weren't?  Sadly, my assumption is that I would be automatically held to blame as the motorist in the absence of evidence otherwise, and it would be up to me to prove my innocence rather then the other way round.  An experience of the courts a few years ago with a speeding case has left me with no faith whatsoever in the reasonableness or impartiality of the justice system.

So I am thinking about getting a dash cam.  One of those devices that fasten to the inside of the windscreen and record basically what the driver sees.  I understand that some of them have a 'looping' feature, where the cam records for 10-20 minutes or so and then starts recording over the stored footage.  That would be ideal for this situation, as it is usually only the last 30 seconds or so that would be relevant in the case of an accident.  Of course, a facility for continuous recording would be good too, of reasonable quality for putting on the Web.  And if it could be waterproof and motorcycle-mountable, well ...

But I get ahead of myself.  I have checked out what's available online, and it seems you could spend anything from about £40 to over £200 on one of these devices, and the cheap ones seem to have a lot of the required features.  I know some of you will have one of these, or something similar and relevant.  Any advice for someone who wants good functionality without spending a fortune?  Requirements would be:

  • Reasonable colour image quality and frame rate
  • SD card or similar storage for easy transfer to PC
  • Format compatible with other devices, i.e. mpeg, mov, avi etc.
  • Looping facility
Nice to have:
  • Still or time-lapse facility
  • Inbuilt screen to frame the correct view when setting up
  • Weather resistance
  • Compatible with large storage cards for extended use
  • 12v and battery operation
  • Flexibility in mounting (i.e. helmet or motorcycle).

As an aside, if you haven't already done so, go to YouTube and search for 'Russian dashcams' if you want a real fright.  Apparently so many Russian drivers are uninsured that a lot of people (especially commercial drivers like truckers) have a dashcam running routinely to provide evidence for when the inevitable happens. Some of the footage is merely funny, but some will scare the pants off you.  I'm convinced many Russian drivers either have a death wish, or are blind drunk, or both.

Anyway, over to you ...


  1. Regarding your aside - this "Truck Crashes" compilation (not only from Russia) is both eye-opening & frightening.


    The inertia of some speeding out-of-control trucks has to be seen to be believed.

    1. I had a long-term plan to visit the near bit of Russia (St Pete and environs) but now I'm not so sure. Some of those accidents are not survivable to anyone not in a massive truck, and sometimes not even then. And when you watch the footage, it's hard to see how some of them could have been avoided, even by a very alert rider.

  2. I have seen some of those youtube video and they are indeed scary.

    I really hate it when pedestrians and bicycle riders have no thought to traffic laws. Luckily here we have had them cited for failure to yield right of way, but not always.

    1. Here (although it's not written anywhere) there is a presumption that any pedestrian or cyclist is wholesome, honest, careful and kind to kittens, whereas anyone in a car is a planet-raping psychopath. A cyclist could damage your car quite deliberately, and you would have no way of pursuing them, physically or legally, as they are not required to display any identification or carry insurance.

    2. Well, not always - the local paper reports a kid's in hospital after a traffic collision and, miracle of miracles, the police haven't arrested the driver!

      I suspect I know why - the stretch of road (shops on both sides) is notorious for jaywalkers...

  3. Richard

    Check out


    I think he has tested some dash cams

    1. Thanks, Nikos, will check it out in due course (at work at present). I'm hoping that endemoniada_88 will be along soon, as he has produced some superb bike videos, although I suspect his kit will be rather more high-end than I am looking for.

  4. Do let us know what you get and how you get on, Richard, this is something I'm interested in too.

  5. Many years ago I was involved in a fatal RTA, pedestrian had pushed through people waiting at a pelican crossing. This was way before dashcams, in fact mobile phones were a great rarity.

    The important thing there was having independent witnesses.

    Now having a dashcam is independent, and also a form of evidence, so it cuts both ways i.e. hide it if you think you may be in the wrong!

    1. I'm sorry to hear that. It must have been a tough time for you. I must say that I was having the same thoughts as you - the need to edit the footage before handing it over to the 'authorities' in order to hide the 'making progress' for the 45 minutes prior to the incident :) And then of course edited footage is open to challenge ...

      You can't win!

  6. If you're going to consider anywhere near the median of that price range, can I suggest looking up Drift Innovations? Adventure cams rather than dash cams, but will easily fit your stated requirements, apart from looping. Compact, durable, high-quality wide angle lens, wireless remote operation, HD if you want it, and you can fit hours of video on a 16 or 32 GB SD card (which is why looping might not be essential!).
    Best of all, when you're not filming queues of pedestrians being crushed under your scything chariot wheels, you can mount it on bike or helmet and take some decent on-board footage. (Congrats on the new Yam, by the way - I knew you weren't really old enough for a BMW!!!).
    Highly recommended devices for a quite reasonable cost.

    1. I knew if I waited long enough an expert would turn up :) I will certainly look into that, and thanks for the tip. I think I am possibly looking for two devices here. I've wanted a bike cam for quite a while, but am hesitating over the cost, as I also fancy a bike-specific satnav, and they aren't cheap. The dashcam would essentially be a much cheaper device that I could just leave in the car and forget. I believe some of them come on with the ignition, loop away, and switch off when you stop, in other words, they are just there all the time. I'm not sure I could be bothered with fitting it every time I went out in the car.

      Anyway, I have a good place to start looking, and perhaps the mythical do-it-all device will emerge. Is this what you used for the bike trip footage? If that's the case, I am already impressed with the quality. Thanks!

    2. Fair enough - especially having seen the pt 2 post. For convenience' sake I can certainly see why you'd want to have an "always-on" cheapie for the dash.

      Should you decide to look further into onboard bike cams, then yes, all the footage from 2011 was taken on a Drift Innovations standard X170 model. Last year's (which is still in the editing stage, due to horrendous lack of time) was partially on that and partially on an X170HD Stealth. I didn't notice much difference in quality between the two, to be honest, but then the base picture on the ordinary X170 was pretty good to begin with.

      I'm not completely convinced by bike-specific satnavs, I have to say. Our group have used both bike- and car- versions on the continent, and not found much difference in device performance, certainly not enough to justify the excessive price gap. As a Garmin user, the equivalent of my £100 Nuvi plus a £60 RAM-mounted case was a £499 Zumo for bike. I'm probably going to upgrade the satnav this year (getting the map updates being almost as expensive as buying a new unit), and think I'll probably just go for one of the Guidance-2 model Nuvis (trip log, more features and lifetime map updates over my current one, at around £150 new). Whether it ends up in the tankbag (as per last year) or back on the RAM mount, that should be quite enough for me!

    3. I'm tempted to agree with you. Since I worked out a RAM mount and waterproof case for my (car) TomTom, I have been quite happy with it. It doesn't look cool, but it works. It would be hard to justify upwards of £500 on a bike-specific device now I have this one worked out.

  7. The Go Pro is a good buy and worth the money. I have had a couple through the years and use them regularly. They are adaptable to just about any situation car, bike, water, etc., and have numerous ways for mounting capabilities. Weather worthy also. They have been used in court cases and have success in proof and put out a great wide angled and short angle as well as photos.

    1. Thanks KT. I've heard good things about the Go Pro. Interesting if they have been accepted in court as well. I'll post back when I have had a think.


Comment is free, according to C P Scott, so go for it. Word verification is turned off for the time being. Play nicely.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...