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Here's Why I Got a Dashcam

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author photo by Doug DeMuro October 2016

So I'm sitting around the other day, and I get a text from my best friend Joe, who had just purchased a vintage Toyota Land Cruiser after months of searching. The text message was a picture of the Toyota Land Cruiser, spun around in an intersection, smashed up on the driver's side.

If you're a Land Cruiser person, as I am, and as Joe is, this is a heartbreaking image. It's especially heartbreaking because Joe's previous Land Cruiser, a rare 1996 model with factory differential locks, was totaled a year ago when a drunk driver ran a stop sign and hit him. This, after months of searching, was the replacement, purchased just two months ago: a 1986 "FJ60" Land Cruiser, in excellent condition, with just 114,000 miles.

But I could go on about Land Cruisers for days. What's more important is what happened after the accident.

Here's how it happened: Joe was sitting in his Land Cruiser at a red traffic light, waiting for it to turn green. When it did, he started to proceed across the intersection, as you do when you have a green light. By this time, the light for the opposing traffic had been red for roughly eight seconds. Not that this stopped a Toyota Prius v taxicab from running the red light and smashing straight into the side of Joe's Land Cruiser.

Joe was in the Land Cruiser with his mom and three family dogs, and his immediate response to the accident was confusion and shock -- the sort of thing that happens when you're spun around in an intersection without any warning. It was at this moment that the taxi driver ran up to Joe's car and started screaming that Joe had run the red light, and How could you do such a thing?! and the taxi driver was just going through a green light, and You're a HORRIBLE DRIVER!

Except, Joe didn't run the red light -- the taxi driver did. And why do I believe Joe? Because moments later, the guy who was sitting in the car next to him walked up and announced that Joe didn't run the light, the taxi driver did, and he's sure of it -- because he captured the entire incident on his dashcam.

And, indeed, he did. Go to 1:55 in the video above to see it for yourself.  And he was nice enough to stick around until the police showed up in order to turn over the dashcam footage as evidence.

This immediately changed the taxi driver's tune. He went from irate and upset at Joe to claiming that his brakes had failed, and that's why he had run the red light. And he even told Joe that his witnesses could leave, "because I'll be your witness." Which seems like a tremendously legitimate way to handle an accident.

Of course, the police eventually arrived, and they watched the dashcam evidence, and they cited the taxi driver on the spot. And that brings us to the point of this story, which is: I ordered a dashcam online that night, and scheduled an appointment to have it installed the very next day.

Although I had heard a few people discuss the benefits of driving with a dashcam over the last year or two, I never seriously thought about getting one myself until Joe's accident. I, personally, have never been in a serious car accident where fault was disputed, and I never really considered the complexities that could arise from such a situation. Joe told me the cab driver was so irate and insistent that the light was green for his taxi that Joe actually considered, briefly, that maybe he had run the light.

And so, on Tuesday, my Land Rover dealership will be installing my dashcam while they fix a host of other issues. And then someday, maybe, if I'm reeeeeeally lucky, my dashcam can be the sole piece of evidence that decides a tremendously important legal battle, stemming from a collision with highly disputed facts and information, that involved powerful defendants and a lengthy jury trial.

Or maybe I'll just make a compilation video of people driving slowly in the passing lane.

Accident Damage

Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Here's Why I Got a Dashcam - Autotrader