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Backseat Driver (The Freeman) - September 6, 2015 - 10:00am

Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen

As timely as the title may seem, this month being the start of the 'ber' months, this has nothing to do with the holidays or reindeers. Those were the words that best described what I saw as I was reviewing footage retrieved from a dashboard camera (dashcam) installed on my friend's delivery truck. We retrieved footage from the truck's dashcam to review the moments leading towards the traffic collision that his truck got involved in.

Now, I will not discuss about the traffic collision; as this is was a matter that was already resolved, thanks to the help of the footage. Rather, I would mostly talk about the advantages of having a dashcam mounted on your vehicle. First off, having such a gadget mounted on your vehicle would be of great help especially if the circumstances leading to a traffic incident could be subject to multiple misinterpretations. We all know that interpretations on who's at fault are subject to the point of view of who you ask. There are default rules on who's at fault; like it's the fault of the vehicle in the back, etcetera.  But what if the dashcam footage shows the front car suddenly swerving into the lane of the rear car and brake checks hard? Would word of mouth testimony hold water? Not all the time.  But if footage would show that that's exactly what happened, no amount of explaining would absolve the driver of the brake-checking car for driving recklessly and causing a collision.

Another reason to have a dashcam is to be able to closely monitor the activities of your drivers. This is especially true for those who have service utility vehicles. The dashcam not only records the route they take, it also keeps track of the time that your staff spend in each location that they have to be in. A routine stop that normally takes ten to 15 minutes shouldn't register 30 minutes to an hour of footage. Even worse, a delivery van that has no business with the school of an employee's child should not have footage of the van pulling up to the school and leaving two hours after, with a side trip to the employee's home to drop off the child. Dashcams are ideal to keep productivity up and prevent loss of income due to misuse of company property.

Dashcams are also useful in preventing roadside bribery. Let's not kid ourselves, this happens as often as scooters and mopeds cross the yellow line and drive against the flow of traffic.  And just as often as that happens, the times they get caught are also proportionate to the times these bribing enforcers get caught red handed; zero to almost never. Imagine how spooked a dirty traffic enforcer would be when he finds out that after he discusses his rate with you, you tell him you caught everything on your dashcam.

The only downside that I see with having a dashcam mounted in your vehicle is the person who owns the footage. You see, there are drivers who are vindictively squeamish and would quickly post footage on social media and bring down a hailstorm of hate on the one vehicle that gave them a bad day. There's already too much hate in the world today, don't add to it just because your "sports car" couldn't catch up to a clunking jalopy.

Now, regarding the title, those were the nicknames I gave the different situations I saw while reviewing the footage. The cab that jumped the light and sped away was Dasher. The non-local plated car that was weaving in and out of lanes was Dancer.  The car with a "caution new driver" sticker on it that was struggling with gear shifting was Prancer. And Vixen, was the lady who distracted the driver of the van long enough for him to not notice the stopped vehicle in front of him and eventually collide with said vehicle.

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