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Russian dash cams have been in the news a lot. This December plane crash caught by a dash cam as the driver swerves to avoid debris coming from the disintegrating plane was one of the first videos to put dash cams on the trending lists of most news entities. This was followed up a few months later with dozens of dash cam captured videos of a meteorite streaking through the sky over the Ural Mountains. U.S. news organizations asked the question: Why do so many Russian drivers use dash cams?

The answer is fairly simple. Russian drivers use dash cams to prove who was at fault in an accident. But there are a number of factors that play into this.

  • Russians are innovative. When you break down on the side of the road, they can have their car up and running again with less than duct-tape. Having access to inexpensive digital technology like portable cameras led to the innovative use of dash cams to protect themselves against fault in car crashes.
  • The Russian legal system is notoriously corrupt. The one who wins in court is usually the one who bribed the police and judge the most. Drivers without sufficient ability to bribe the system need to rely on other tools to protect them.
  • Driving is fairly new to most Russians. In the 1970s, there was a 10 year waiting list to get a vehicle. You could walk across Moscow’s widest boulevards without having to look both ways. Today the system of obtaining a driver license it arcane and expensive. Many people simply bribe local officials to obtain a license, and cars are ubiquitous these days.
  • There is a saying that to know Russia, you need to know both the Eastern and the Western influences. A large part of Russian worldview includes a lot of fatalism and superstition brought westward by eastern invaders throughout the long history of the place. Fatalism and bad driving have a long and sordid history in many parts of the world.

These are a few of the reasons for the use of dash cams in Russia. Most of this was sourced from my father, Al Akimoff, who has worked in Russia and the former Soviet Union for more than 40 years. My dad says that after so many years of travel, nothing really scares him any more. Unless it’s being driven around in Russia.

Tim Akimoff – Digital Content Editor

WBEZ Chicago

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