Crash Cam

Russian Car Cams Produce Some Crazy Videos


In this photo provided by Chelyabinsk.ru, a meteorite contrail is seen over the city of Chelyabinsk

Photograph by AP Photo/Chelyabinsk.ru

In this photo provided by Chelyabinsk.ru, a meteorite contrail is seen over the city of Chelyabinsk

Some of the most dramatic footage of today’s meteor explosion above the Russian city of Chelyabinsk was shot from dashboard-mounted cameras in cars weaving through early-morning traffic with the radio blaring in the background.

What are the odds that drivers would be filming a routine morning commute? In Russia, very good indeed. Dash-cams, as they’re known, are ubiquitous in Russia, where bad roads, extreme weather, heavy drinking, and aggressive drivers produce a frighteningly high accident rate. With 38.7 million cars on the road, Russia had 35,972 traffic-related deaths according to a 2009 World Health Organization report. The U.S., with 251.4 million cars, reported 42,642 deaths—barely one-sixth the Russian rate.

Russians use dash-cam videos as evidence to back their insurance claims and fend off bribe-seeking cops. Legislation introduced in the Russian Parliament last year would allow dash-cam footage to be introduced as evidence in court, according to news agency RIA Novosti. Even before the meteor, Russian dash-cam videos had become a YouTube (GOOG) favorite, with compilations of spectacular accidents and road-rage incidents, as well as the occasional plane crash.

Here are two unique looks at the Feb. 15 meteoroid explosion:

And a collection of general mayhem drivers experienced:

In December 2012, a Red Wings passenger airplane slid off the runway while landing at Moscow’s Vnukova Airport, scattering debris across a highway. Five people were killed.

In this video, a driver leaves the scene of an accident.

And a head-on collision.

Matlack is a Paris correspondent for Bloomberg Businessweek.

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