Well, no, you can’t legally run through a stoplight I suppose, but if a police officer flags you through, then you won’t get a ticket. The key here is that I have video proof.
My obsession with car cams or dash cams reignited with the video footage of the Russian meteor back on February 15, 2013. I was amazed that so many people had great video of the event. Then I read why. Marina Galperina posted an excellent article Why Russians Are Obsessed With Dash-Cams, but to summarize, snow and ice make for slick roads and hit & runs are rampant to the point where insurance companies almost require video evidence to pay claims.
My research led me to DashCamTalk which has a comparison of available cameras, most of which are inexpensive. Unfortunately, the one that caught my eye (F500 LHD) had to be bought directly from China meaning I would become an importer! As unappealing as that sounds, small electronics under a certain amount are not flagged by U.S. Customs so regular post office delivery worked fine. It just took a couple of weeks.
The camera is slightly smaller than a pack of cigarettes and very light so it will fit just about anywhere in your vehicle. I did have a quality problem with the suction cup mount that came with it. The suction cup separated from the mount the first time I attached it to my windshield. Fortunately, Amazon sells a replacement that is much sturdier for around $6 so I ate it and didn’t mess with a warranty replacement hassle. Also, the camera does not include an SD card (the recording medium) so I bought a 32GB card along with the new mount.
Hiccups aside, I’m very happy with the camera. It takes great HD video and the files are stored as MOV files so they import directly into iMovie. I’m also happy to report that my video has been uneventful so far.
An example of the night vision capability shows some grain, but the video is still quite acceptable.
If you want to see some dashcams in action, videos are uploaded daily to a LiveJournal blog. I also found that searching for “car crash compilations” on YouTube has most if not all of these stitched together. While some view this purely as entertainment, I can definitely say that my defensive driving mindset has increased after watching a few of these. My only problem now is that I don’t understand Russian so there may be a Rosetta Stone purchase in my near future!