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Use of dashcams on the rise as extra eyes for drivers, police

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Nov 7th, 2017

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Dashboard camera’s or dashcams have quickly become a reliable security blanket for drivers in Toronto and across Canada. So much so, that they are rapidly changing the way both police and the courts look at road accidents.

In recent years they’ve proven to be valuable extra eyes on the road that sometimes capture crucial evidence or even disturbing accidents.

“The driving culture in Toronto has become very aggressive and I’m just nervous, I want evidence if I need it” says Craig Michalowsky. His dashcam was rolling when a pothole took out one of his tires on the Gardiner Expressway, and he’s one of a growing number of Canadians who use them.

A recent survey found 35 per cent of Canadian drivers have a dashcam in their vehicles or think it’s a good idea. Toronto Police thinks so too – they’ve been using dashcams in police cruisers for at least 15 years.

Const. Clint Stibbe says dashcams are “invaluable” for the Toronto Police Service.

“A lot of people that are involved in collisions – dash camera is like a third witness which gives us another view into what exactly happened” he says.

Not only are they helpful to police, they’re also useful tools for those looking to go legal. Dashcam videos have quickly become the star witness for personal injury lawyers.

Stephanie Zwicker Slavens with Diamond and Diamond Lawyers says she’s seen the use of dashcam videos as evidence in cases increase exponentially in recent years.

“Probably an increase of 75 per cent in the last year,” she says.

Most major Canadian insurance companies do not offer discounts for drivers who install dashcams in their vehicles. But Pete Karageorgos from The Insurance Bureau of Canada says having one can help expedite the claims process.

“It really can help speed up the claims process when you have an unbiased witness or a visual like a dashcam video to indicate what exactly happened before the crash or at the time of impact … those can be invaluable to tell the story,” he says.

Michalowsky says he certainly plans to use dashcam video to tell his side of the story when it comes to the pothole versus his Mercedes.

“I’ll be contacting the city to see if they have pothole insurance I think and see what they can do” he says.

But a word of caution – don’t get carried away with the story telling. Dashcam videos must be submitted in full and unedited in order to be admissible in court.

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