DASHCAM INCOMING: A still from the now viral video of a plane which crashed into a river in Taiway in February 2015. Image: YouTube
PARIS, France - The video recording of a plane diving out of the sky, clipping a bridge in Taiwan, and splashing into a river this week was a reminder that dashcams have become an increasingly valuable asset for modern drivers.
The TransAsia crash, which killed at least 31 people on Wednesday, was filmed and put on YouTube (but later removed and deemed 'private') yet re-recorded elsewhere was filmed by at least two such in-car cameras commonly carried in Taiwan (and other eastern and Asian countries, to record events in case of a post-collision/crash dispute.
It's not the first time a rare event has been captured in this way...
INSURANCE CLAIMS SORTED
• In February 2013 a dashcam caught a meteorite crashing to Earth in Chelyabinsk, Russia. It injured more than 1000 people.
• In 2014 one recorded a missile landing on a motorway just a few metres ahead of the camera’s host car in eastern Ukraine.
Dashcams have become particularly popular in Russia to reject injury insurance claims by scammers who throw themselves into the windscreen of slow-moving cars. The trend has spawned several amusing videos of people jumping on to the bonnets of stationary vehicles and pretending to be hurt.
The largest taxi firm in Singapore has installed a camera in each of its 16 600 vehicles not only to provide evidence after an incident but also to encourage safe driving.
Insurance policies have appeared that offer lower rates to people with dashcams.
The habit has started to catch on in Europe. Sales by early 2014 were estimated to have reached 370 000 in France, according to magazine UFC-Que Choisir.
A typical camera costs the equivalent of about R2000 and records 10 minutes at a time. Drivers can save a recording manually, or video is stored digitally and automatically in the event of a violent shock.
A spokesperson for France's Allianz and Amaguiz insurance firm which has tied up with dashcam manufacturer Coyote said: "We are seeing a major shift, with people equipping themselves more and more with cameras in their cars, mainly for (evidence) use after a crash but also in case of a hit-and-run.”
He added that the plane crash in Taiwan would probably be filed under "additional and unexpected uses".
Pierre Chasseray, head of a French drivers' association called 40 Million Drivers said dashcams should become standard in new cars.
"It's an extremely positive development in terms of road safety and it's good in terms of ensuring drivers act responsibly," he said.
"The camera never lies."