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I’ve advocated the use of dash cams for probably six years now. A road rage incident near Springfield, Illinois one evening convinced me of the prudence and wisdom of having a visual record of events while driving. I bought one the next day and haven’t regretted it for a minute.

Since then, I’ve upgraded to a much higher resolution camera (near 4k quality with a Rove R2-4k) and been even happier. It’s a set-and-forget-until-you-need-it” system, and mine sits unobtrusively, mounted on the far side of my rear-view mirror.

It pays off… again.

On January 5th, a driver sideswiped me as I drove the munchkins to day care. He was probably traveling about 15 mph over the posted speed limit when he hit me.

The other driver hardly touched his brakes, much less stopped after the impact. Finally, with me behind him, he reconsidered upgrading the incident to a hit-and-run about a half-dozen blocks later and turned onto a side street. He pulled over as I spoke with a 9-1-1 dispatcher and pulled up behind his vehicle.

After sitting in his SUV for a minute or two, he emerged, unsteady on his feet as if quite intoxicated. I relayed that info to the dispatcher and continued to watch him.

Not only did he look intoxicated, but he looked very angry, too. Of course, his angry shouting was another tidbit of information law enforcement might consider a clue as to his aggressiveness.

Image by Boch.

I took the opportunity to back up almost to the intersection to create some additional distance. As I explained what I saw to the dispatcher, the man began to approach my vehicle in a wide arc, yelling more and physically posturing as if he wanted to fight. Yeah, he “leaked” lots of pre-violence indicators with his body language in addition to his verbal utterances.

Watching his hands as much as possible, I told him to get back (that’s the family-friendly version). Of course, the dispatcher was still on the other end of the call, sitting in her comfy office chair in a secure location.  She was telling me not to engage the other driver. That was easy for her to say.

My first inclination was to go for my gun if he produced a weapon in his hands, but then I remembered I had a better tool under my right foot.  Especially with toddlers in the car.  Fortunately things didn’t get that far sideways.

I repeated for him to get the F back and that police were on the way. That’s when he returned to his SUV.

It turns out the man couldn’t produce proof of insurance (surprise!), which might explain his reluctance to stop. The officer said he investigated a whole lot of DUIs when he worked nights for five years and on this morning, the cop noted that didn’t see any overt signs of intoxication when speaking with the other driver.

I showed the officer the dash cam video on my phone. The camera left no doubt who was responsible for the collision, and that earned the other driver a pair of tickets – one for improper lane usage and another for failure to maintain insurance. The officer asked me to upload the video to the local PD evidence server, which I did.

Looking at the video a couple of times on a large monitor at home, the other driver’s unsteadiness on his feet might have been an old injury or disability, not impairment. The cop said he could see why my first inclination might have been intoxication given the wobbly gait of the other driver and the other circumstances.

On my side of things, we had no injuries and very little damage to my ride. I’m pretty sure I used up a lot of my good karma escaping without much damage or getting pushed into a head-on collision with that oncoming school bus which might have happened if he had hit me a couple seconds later.

The other SUV suffered some damage.

The kiddos were mildly traumatized less by the collision than by the confrontation. They were utterly unfamiliar with hearing daddy’s “assertive” voice dealing with an aggressor. Fortunately, they’re no longer talking about it on a regular basis.

Folks, for less than the cost of a speeding ticket, a dash cam makes all the difference in the world in dispassionately documenting what happens while you’re driving.

It affirms your version of events and at the same time protects you from false accusations, including claims that you were driving “aggressively” or threatening other drivers (verbally or with other “tools”). They can also document that you didn’t run a red light at an intersection.

If you drive like a decent human being, you need one of these. If you drive professionally, they become mandatory. And if you’re heavy-footed at times, you can turn off the recorded speed stamp.

If you have teenagers driving, that’s a whole new stack of reasons to put a dash cam in their car as well. It can help protect them from hit and run drivers (by recording license plate information), or from false accusations of wrongdoing in a crash. It can also instill a little common sense if they know you can review their driving to make sure they aren’t doing stupid stuff to potentially win stupid prizes.

In addition to all of the above reasons, dash cams will save a permanent record if someone attacks you in your vehicle.

Get a dash cam. Even if nothing bad happens to you, it’ll make for some amusing video if you hit a deer or slide off the road in an ice storm.

 

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60 COMMENTS

    • Yes—and an important lesson for others. I always try to learn from the mistakes of other people rather than learn the hard way. I’ve had a dash cam for a little over a year now. Bought two during the “Summer of Love” in 2020. Considering an upgrade now (4K may be a touch over the top for me).
      However, I disagree that hitting a deer is at all amusing. It’s likely to cause significant damage to your vehicle—especially in anything other than a full-size truck with cattleguard.

      • Julio,

        I seriously doubt that a 4k video camera provides any advantage if it has the typical tiny (bordering on pinhole) size camera lens.

        The diameter of an optical lens and its magnification combine to limit how much resolution you can discern. My intuition tells me that a tiny lens does not allow for full 4k video resolution. If that is true, buying 4k video cameras over 1080p or 2k cameras is a waste of money. I recommend that you research it a bit further.

        • U_S, I have had a tiny drone for about 6 months now, under 8 oz, which has 4K recording capability from a really tiny lens mounted with a gimbal system to stablize the image. The lens is less than 1/4 inch across, and it provides absolutely STUNNING video and still images as well. My 4K TV is still in the garage awaiting installation, so I have only observed on the computer screen, but I suspect your assumptions about lens vs resolution are incorrect. They are also so inexpensive today there is no reason to not use 4K.

        • I have a 4k dashcam and you can easily read plates from quite a ways off. Only real disadvantage to that size is a minimum of 128 gb SD cards or it quickly rolls over.

  1. Glad everything worked out. To totally armchair quarterback this thing, I’m not sure I would follow the other driver if you already have dash cam footage of his plate and with kids in the car.

    • My first thought as well, but then he exercised great caution nd situational awareness when he backed WAY up to put distance between Runaway and his own car. Had the clown come at him aggressibly he could easily have backed up futher round the corner and had an exit. It also forced Clown to walk quite a ways, revealing his clear aggressive position. One more advantage, had he not turned in after Clown, Clown wyoud most likely have continued on his way unimpeded. As things played out, our guy was able to maintain visual and “con” the coppers right to his exact location. I’ll also bet Clown was surprised to reaise our guy had good dash cam material to PROVE beyoind doubt what had happened No more he said I said conversatiins. Informitng Clown he needed to stay back and that cops were on their way, put the brakes on Clown big time. Else Clown could have easily fled…. but, wiht number plate on the clear dashcam footage, Clwon would have had Someone “official” pay him a visit later in the day, and Someone most likelhy would have had company.. specifically with a ralther heavy duty HOOK dangling behind HIS rig. WOuld have made Clown’s day a whole lot worse.

    • I agree with you. I ain’t following some lunatic-maybe. Several years ago I was 2nd in line at a light waiting to turn left-at night. A jagoff hit the side of my car(in a large van) knocking my mirror off and smashing the door. I couldn’t turn & pursue the scum(I was armed). Good thing as I was quite angry. No injuries(I just picked up my son from college). Went to the local po-lice dept to report it. Hilariously a black dude in front of me got out and said he was pursuing the miscreants. And he did making a U-turn. Would I have shot homie? I’ll never know…

      • So it was hilarious that a black dude… And if he happened to be a white dude? Pretty inherently racist comment for a guy who constantly points out how he is married to a black woman. And you follow up by saying you were angry, then asking if you would’ve shot homie but that we’ll never know… Really? Why, because said homie damaged your ride and you were mad? Would you have shot him sooner or more often if he was black? What if he was Asian or Indian, do you let them get a little closer before drawing or shooting? Yet you label yourself as a “former water walker”.

    • Matthew, I hear where you are coming from, but I think in most states you are REQUIRED BY LAW to stop and exchange information, or *you* are the one guilty of hit-and-run! The possible scenarios you are imagining is why we are armed, but they are not what we expect. We expect to take care of business like civilized people, not madmen. After decades without driving incident, last year I rear-ended a lady, got my car repaired only to be rear-ended by a guy in a truck a few weeks later. Lots of “OOoops! Sorry”s and photo exchange of POI and off we went, never even considered drawing my gun. True, it was my “expendable” car, not my BMW, but I believe I could still have survived without murdering anyone.

    • Excellent point! Maybe after I upgrade my current set up? Not sure how I’ll run the cord into camper. Maybe wire an extension of some kind.

        • Yes—that’s how my camper’s third brake light is wired. However, I plan to actively turn on or off the recording…like when I drive on base or as I get close to my house. Sure, automatic recording may be preferred by some. Just not my style.

  2. Actually, get two. One hidden, one not hidden. When the incident is with an authority and the first disappears, the backup lives on. Russians have been using them for years, as people step in front of cars looking to sue.

    • I am thinking you can get a version that sends video files via cell to a cloud storage.
      That way if the dash can is simply taken the record remains.
      Maybe these can be set to transmit after an impact as well? The 1 minute prior?

      • Just get a model that uses removable media and have extra memory cards on hand. I keep 1 in the camera (front and back views) and one in the console. If I want to grab some footage of an idiot, I swap out the current card and put the spare in. Take it in, get what I need, and put it in the console as the new spare.

    • Considering Russian law enforcement is decided by bribe, Russian people have learned that dashcams are good insurance.

      I see a few dash cam channels on YouTube. I watch with my son as an example of not being “that person”. He will start learning to drive in a few years.

    • I recall watching a video a few years ago in which an unscrupulous police officer literally took a driver’s cell phone from him, deleted the video being taken at the moment, then told the driver to exit the vehicle. The driver had the foresight to install a secondary pinhole camera on the passenger-side A pillar (where the windshield meets the body frame) aimed toward the interior and specifically toward the driver’s window. The officer was later charged with unlawful search (taking the phone and looking through it) and tampering of evidence (deleting the video).

      What’s more, the pinhole camera recorded the officer rummaging through the driver’s glovebox and other compartments, probably looking for a weapon or items he could take for himself. The officer lied to investigators about his conduct, and reported that the driver acted hostile, and that it gave him probable cause to detain and search. That officer was allegedly suspended for falsifying his report.

      I had a basic dashcam, but it malfunctioned a while ago and I haven’t replaced it yet. I think I’m going to do it pronto, and upgrade to a good 3-camera system (forward, backward, and interior of vehicle).

  3. “On January 5th, a driver sideswiped me as I drove the munchkins to day care. He was probably traveling about 15 mph over the posted speed limit when he hit me.

    The other driver hardly touched his brakes, much less stopped after the impact. Finally, with me behind him, he reconsidered upgrading the incident to a hit-and-run about a half-dozen blocks later and turned onto a side street. He pulled over as I spoke with a 9-1-1 dispatcher and pulled up behind his vehicle.

    After sitting in his SUV for a minute or two, he emerged, unsteady on his feet as if quite intoxicated. I relayed that info to the dispatcher and continued to watch him.”

    Ok, let me see if I got this: Your kids are in the car, you get sideswiped and the other driver keeps going, you follow him then pull over behind him and stop. Then you during all this start communicating with the guy ordering him (telling him ‘to get the F back’) to get back knowing that he appears intoxicated yet with the kids in the car you are in a position where you starting to think about needing a weapon. But you sit there and continue to communicate with a drunk angry aggressive guy who may or may not be armed, who has already shown a disregard for your life and safety and that of your kids by sideswiping you and driving off. But you, instead of driving away and telling the 911 dispatcher you do not feel safe there with your kids in the car – you continue to aggravate the guy by continuing to order him around. But for some reason now you think its great because you have a dash cam.

    That about right? Ok then, I have only one question. Are you stupid?

    • Heh—lots of lessons here. Choose how you would react differently now rather than wait for it to (potentially) happen to you.

    • you had the guys license plate number, neither of you are at the actual accident scene, there no reason to follow him to begin with. He’s drunk and angry and aggressive and out of his car and has approached yours, you don’t know if he is armed with a firearm or not, you have your kids in the car. What would have happened to your kids if he was armed and managed to put you down? During an exchange of weapons fire would your kids have been hit?

      Just because you can carry a gun or have a dash cam does not mean you are Superman, it does not mean you should stay around to see what happens, juts because you can be there in public does not mean you should place yourself or others in such a situation where the threat level is simmering but you are unsure, it does not mean you need to stay around and start thinking about options for defense in place and purposely ignore your best and safest defense in this situation to simply drive away and keep away far enough so the guy could no longer see you or you see him at least.

      And to top it all off you did all this with your kids in the car, WTF is wrong with you?

      You should have left.

      stupid stupid stupid.

      • The likelihood of having a high enough resolution photo of an oncoming license plate to actually be able to read it, is virtually nil. Following behind long enough to get the plate number, while on the phone with 911/dispatch would perhaps be a better way to deal with the situation.

        • If you have a model that records audio (and you’re willing to do so), as soon as something happens, recite the plate number aloud a few times.

      • Booger,
        While your analysis makes it clear that there may have been better ways to handle the situation, the phrase “stupid, stupid, stupid” just seems mean-spirited. Maybe you have never had a retrospective moment in which you thought “Gee, maybe I should have done that differently”.

        I applaud Bosh for risking abuse and high criticism by telling this store.

        • Agree, kinda mean. Consider though if, unless it’s a small town, he has a picture of lic plate and stops where the accident happens. Cops show up and there are no injuries. Cops are all “meh, file with your insurance” and go on their way. Maybe a bench warrant gets put out for guy so next time, in a few years, he gets pulled over and gets arrested…..maybe.
          How many times are any of us involved in a Hit and Run anyway, hard to know how we’ll react. However, considering kids in car…yeah, keep alot of distance, gather intel and don’t confront. If you’re by yourself and you want to ..get closer..by all means! but remember someone is counting on you coming home so be prudent.

        • @LifeSavor

          “While your analysis makes it clear that there may have been better ways to handle the situation, the phrase “stupid, stupid, stupid” just seems mean-spirited. Maybe you have never had a retrospective moment in which you thought “Gee, maybe I should have done that differently”.”

          I’m not trying to be mean spirited, I’m serious, it was stupid, stupid, stupid.

          Yes, we have all had that moment when we thought “Gee, maybe I should have done that differently”.

          this was a no brainier – kids in car, angry aggressive drunk guy…“Yeah, he “leaked” lots of pre-violence indicators with his body language in addition to his verbal utterances.”“My first inclination was to go for my gun if he produced a weapon in his hands” – he should have shut up like the 911 operator said and thought about his kids and drove away. Instead, he hangs around endangering (possibly) his kids.

          Yes, it was stupid stupid stupid

          But we carry guns, we don’t have the luxury of being wrong the first time and although there was no gun play here that same attitude should have prevailed in this situation because by his own words …

          1. “Yeah, he “leaked” lots of pre-violence indicators with his body language in addition to his verbal utterances.”

          2. “My first inclination was to go for my gun if he produced a weapon in his hands”

          So his first thought should have been to shut his mouth and not engage the guy like the 911 operator said his kids instead of trying to9 hang around and play cop.

      • “John Boch” appears to be a Shit Magnet who is not all that concerned about his children. He’s a short time away from a serious encounter.

      • I agree Booger.

        This story exemplified some of the major complaints that anti-gun people have about gun owners. The first few are the very obvious lack of responsibility and lack of using the very obvious correct actions to avoid any possible confrontation.

        Mr. Boch seemed to have been trying to create a situation in which he would have had to employ defense of some type. All he had to do was drive away. Instead he stays around and continues to aggravate the situation by giving the already aggressive and “pre-violence warning signs displaying” person someone upon which to focus the anger and potential violence including upon the kids.

        Mr. Boch was stupid stupid stupid. He not only failed in the most basic of responsibilities for a gun carrier to avoid situations such as this, he intentionally endangered not only his children but himself by creating and staying in a “pre-violence warning signs” dangerous situation which by Mr. Boch’s own words was concerning enough to consider the possibility of deadly force use. Mr. Boch failed in the most basic responsibility of a parent and that is to keep our children away from danger potential or otherwise.

        What these dash cam pictures captured was Mr. Boch’s own stupidity and lack of responsibility. They show, by the proximity of the “pre-violence warning signs” drunk and coupled with Mr. Boch’s own words, the dash cam captures show him endangering his own children and him self by creating the situation by being there and exposing them to a “pre-violence warning signs” dangerous situation that was enough for Mr. Boch to consider the use of deadly force.

        This is not a matter of making a mistake for which in hindsight we can say “maybe I should have done it differently.” If this drunk had been armed there may not have been any later for hind sight for Mr. Boch or his kids.

        When it comes to our kids, when it comes to gun carry, we do not get to make a wrong decision the first time if the situation is such that our thoughts are about employing deadly force – there is no ‘mistake’ or hindsight luxury for us in such a situation, there is only the correct decision to make the first time and in this case that was to drive away and not engage.

    • Exactly my first though. Endangering the lives of your kids and your own because some guy scratched your car? I guess maybe there’s a bit more to the story. Why not share the recording otherwise and only a few screenshots instead? Maybe that’s why the kids were traumatized by daddy’s “assertiveness”. Also, “munchkins”? WTF?

      • All you people seem to be of the conviction that stopping after a collision is optional, is that correct? Please give your definition of “hit-and-run”? Are laws which require certain behaviors when operating a motor vehicle automatically suspended when your kids are in the car? WTF are all you fruitcakes talking about?

  4. Sympathize 100% with this situation, I’ve had a couple of weird encounters with irate drivers.

    Strangest was having been stuck in a fast food drive thru behind other cars. I finally get to the window, get my order and am out of the way pronto. No fussing about with the order, take it and drive.

    The driver behind me does not stop at the window but follows me out and tries to cut me off in the parking lot. I have to stop hard and he jumps out of his vehicle, two fists at his sides and is stomping my way obviously screaming something, all angry and red faced.

    What the heck could be be so mad at me about after we were both trapped in that line for so long? I did nothing to add to that and got out of the way first chance I got.

    Long story short, I see no reason to add to this confrontation. I put it in reverse, backed away quick and drove off. Saw the nut in my rear view running after me screaming bloody murder.

    Thing about Road Rage, some people want to be triggered and are always on an edge looking for a chance to be outraged. The inexplicable will happen. So I am always ready to LEAVE, avoid engaging if at all possible. There’s nothing to be won or gained by confronting some out of control grown adult tossing a temper tantrum over who knows what. If you can leave the crazy person to his or her own problem, do so.

    Just me view on it.

    • He was prepared to take time out of his day to let you know he doesn’t have time to deal with being stuck in line. Road ragers aren’t the most rational people.

    • Unfortunately there are people with poor impulse control who want to feel outraged so they feel justified in their actions. Back in primary school the teachers would refuse to discipline them because “that is their way” or “they are special”.

  5. Agree 100% with this. Been running two for couple of years. Rov is a good setup. I tapped into Rear view mirror power so I would not need to fight with hiding behind pillars ect. Kinda dodgy to do that on some cars with side curtains and all. Don’t want to cross over the airbag with wiring.

  6. The camera recorded all the evidence needed for the police to locate and make an arrest for hit and run, etc. With kids, etc. in the vehicle next time talk less and do a better job keeping a distance.

  7. *BLAM* ,, “oh sht, son of a beetch! You munchkins all right?”
    Sure Dad, just
    Follow the yellow brick road, follow the follow the follow, the follow, follow the yellow brick road.
    “911 What’s your emergency?”
    Weee’re off to see the wizard the wonderful wizard of Oz.

    • avatar Geoff "A day without an apparently brain-damaged mentally-ill demented troll is like a day of warm sunshine" PR

      “Weee’re off to see the wizard the wonderful wizard of Oz.”

      “Because, because, because, because, because… ” 🙁

    • avatar Geoff "A day without an apparently brain-damaged mentally-ill demented troll is like a day of warm sunshine" PR

      He lives in the Chicago area, I seriously doubt that was the first time the kids heard those words… 🙂

      • Actually, he lives in the Bloomington area, and hearing them from strangers is very different than hearing your parent spout them. Teaching by example you know.

  8. Nothing I say constitutes advice of any kind.

    Given that the fine for driving w/o a regime mandated private policy (not even a good or service), is often less than a few months of insurance payments, I’m surprised more people don’t do it until their first ticket / Victimless “crime”. Can’t blame anyone for not having it these days, it’s just racketeering. Buy something you don’t need or we punish you for it. (disclaimer: I do have insurance.)

    No different than dental. Why pay $150/month if you are getting only cleanings once every six months and X-rays once every 1.5 years and a cleaning is $100, w/ X-ray is $150 out of pocket? Put the difference in a savings account.

    Dash camera systems are absolutely invaluable, especially if you have a disability like hearing loss and police try to give you a hard time over it or the revenue crew trying to nail you for the ole “rolling stop”. Having a camera on the dash pointed right at the driver and window keeps everyone honest, one at the road, one behind, etc, preferably streaming to a cloud so destroying the recorder is fruitless.

    Drunk / violent criminals like the one in this article are why I want at least small arms protection on my vehicle, mainly the glass. It’s expensive though so it’s got to wait.

  9. Looking back… and doing some critical self-analysis after reading some of these comments leads me to agree:

    1. I had the offender’s license plate recorded. Once he didn’t slow and stop promptly, (as in turning off the main road within a couple of intersections), I should have stopped and had the police come to take the report as a hit and run. There was no need to follow his jagoff six blocks until he decided, “well, maybe I should stop.”

    This goes about 100x with the toddlers in the car with me. Their safety and well being is my #1 priority when I’m nearby.

    2. Once he came out of the car and started yelling and acting aggressively, I should have left the scene promptly. Once more, go somewhere else, meet the cops and let them sort it out. If anyone doubted the behavior of the other driver, “here’s the video.”

    Mistakes in life are only worthless if we don’t learn from them. I thank some of you for pointing out some things I did very wrong here in this instance.

    John

    • Then people who don’t want them are having to pay for them regardless which jacks up the cost of a new vehicle even more.

  10. The problem with a dash cam is in most(if not all)states, you can be required to produce this as evidence against you at a civil trial. We all know that lawyers are tricky and can make green look red. I am against black boxes in vehicles.

  11. I have fore and aft cameras in both the car and pick up. As well as use a helmet mounted camera on the bike. Haven’t had any incidents to date, but as with many other things I keep in vehicles, or as EDC items, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared for emergencies or just CYA. Always the chance of things going sideways and the video is cheap insurance. Just wish Al. as well as several other Southern states used 2 plates instead of just rear plate.

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