Everybody has heard of the "black box" (actually orange in colour) that all large commercial aircraft carry. This device is a multi-channel rolling voice and data logger that records all the aircraft performance parameters, position, speed and altitude, instrument readouts and cockpit conversations. If an accident or incident occurs, investigators can plug the black box into a computer or a flight simulator and completely recreate the aircraft's operations and thus analyse what went wrong.
Many people who have been involved in car accidents where there have been no witnesses available have often wished for such a black box that would provide them with hard evidence of exactly what and who caused those accidents. People who have been wrongly booked by police or by those notorious revenue-raising speed cameras and knew that they were not speeding or committing any other traffic offence have often wished that they had some way of proving it.
In Russia, having a black box recorder or a dashboard video camera is literally mandatory, as there are so many deliberately staged accidents and corrupt police, that Russians usually cannot make a successful insurance claim unless they can provide hard evidence to show exactly what happened. In Australia, there have been many contrived accidents staged in order to claim compensation for injuries such as whiplash, when videos of those incidents would show that they were not severe enough to cause any sort of injury.
Motorists have a lot of trouble arguing against police testimony in court if they don't have any corroborating evidence or witnesses. The word of police is often believed by courts over the testimony of defendants, despite the fact that police have an appalling record of corruption, criminal activity and booking quotas and this is most unfair. The worst thing is that contrary to proper Westminster justice, a booked motorist is deemed to be guilty unless he proves himself to be innocent and this is something that the Australian High Court needs to examine. The presumption of innocence is totally violated by the infringement notice system.
If you think that the government and their police taxation collectors have been running the booking entrapment racket using speed cameras and speed guns for the past 20 years or so, you are wrong. This disgusting revenue-raising against vehicles and their drivers as cash cows was reported in Victoria as far back in 1875.
So what was happening in Melbourne over a century ago was not much different than the gouging that is happening at the present time. Whenever the coffers at City Hall were running low because of politicians having their snouts in the trough and wasting revenue, those politicians would send out the cops to entrap anybody whom they could nail on speeding charges and fine them until the coffers were replenished.
The problem back then was much the same as the problem right now - the word of the defendant against the word of the cop. Without any corroborating evidence, the defendant stands little or no chance in a courtroom trying to prove that he was not speeding, or the cop who booked him did so legitimately, instead of concocting up a speeding infringement in order to raise revenue.
Back in 1875, the guy driving the horse and cart would be fined for speeding or committing other offences unless he had a wagonload of witnesses that could refute the cop's testimony. But if he was on his own, which was virtually every time, his word in court would not be worth a cracker against the cop's testimony. Magistrates always tend to believe the cop's word over that of a driver's word unless that driver has witnesses or hard evidence to refute the cop's allegations. And it should always be remembered that magistrates are appointed and employed by the state, the same folks that use entrapment to rip off motorists.
Technology may have given the government and the cops a very nice way of raising revenue from motorists by using speed cameras and speed guns, but motorists also have technology at their disposal to beat wrongful bookings if they are prepared to use it. Apart from using GPS receivers to warn them of speed and red light cameras and school zones, motorist can use a relatively inexpensive device as their unimpeachable witness whenever they are driving - the black box recorder.
The importance of having hard evidence to help motorists fight wrongful bookings cannot be overstated and the case of Jerry and Michael Simotas illustrates the enormous value of motorists being able to produce their own irrefutable evidence in court and comprehensively beat wrongful bookings. Read the news report titled Father And Son Stick To Guns To Prove Radar Wrong of this very important legal precedent and watch the video clip of the news report.
It is interesting to note in the Michael Simotas matter that the magistrate quite amazingly convicted and fined him for the offence, based on the visual estimate of the officer at the time of the alleged infringement, rather than accept the hard evidence from the GPS data that Michael Simotas tendered to show that he had not exceeded the speed limit. In other words, this incompetent magistrate preferred to take an eyeballed guess from a cop over hard technical electronic evidence downloaded from a GPS receiver, making the law a complete ass.
The Simotas case shows that there are magistrates who will disregard the hard facts in order to convict people of offences, even when it is apparent that those people are innocent. However as expected in the Simotas case, the conviction and fine were overturned on appeal in the District Court and it would be a very brave magistrate these days to accept a wild guess about speed from a policeman in preference to hard evidence from a very accurate GPS receiver or GPS logger.
The Simotas case and subsequent court cases of drivers beating wrongful bookings in this way illustrate that they can protect themselves against being wrongly booked by police or speed cameras or even being framed by police for some reason or other or to fill their booking quotas. Motorists now have the ideal weapon to help them - the black box recorder.
CARR has been made aware of an insidious practice of some governments in order to raise more revenue by ripping off motorists. They deliberately shorten the amber traffic light phase at intersections where red light cameras are installed to well below the internationally mandated 4-second interval. This has the effect of making motorists far more vulnerable to being booked by those cameras, as they cannot beat the red light if they just happen to enter the intersection just as the amber light illuminates or even worse, before it lights up. The US city of Chicago had been forced to refund many thousands of infringements after this scam was revealed.
Every driver has approached an intersection at the legal speed limit just as the lights were changing to amber. Every driver has had to make a split-second decision as to whether he should slam on the brakes and come to a screeching halt or hit the accelerator and drive through the intersection on the amber light. If the driver chooses to try and stop, he may skid into the intersection and cause a massive danger, especially in wet conditions. If he chooses to drive through on the amber light to avoid his car being struck from the rear by the car driving behind him, that is by far the safest option. However, this is where the deliberate reduction in the amber light phase is sneakily imposed, in order to entrap those motorists for the purpose of raising more revenue.
If motorists are booked in such a scam, how can they fight such unfair infringements without hard evidence? Short of going back to that intersection on the day and video recording the traffic light phases, they don't stand a chance of beating such bookings in court. But if a motorist shows up in court with a video clip of the exact moment that he entered and drove through the intersection, clearly showing that the amber phase was too short, he will not only beat the infringement, but have adequate grounds, as well as the hard evidence to sue the government for inflicting this scam onto him and trying to rip him off.
Going back to the intersection a month after the date of the infringement and timing the amber phase is not really a good proposition, because the traffic light phasing may have been changed, removing the evidence that the motorist needs to beat the booking. The only feasible way of obtaining the required evidence is that a video recording has to be made at the exact time of the infringement. The only way this can be done is by having a black box recorder operating. The motorist may not even know that he has been booked until he gets the infringment notice some weeks after the event, so having hard video evidence from that exact time is absolutely crucial for any court action to beat that booking.
One of the most common annoyances that motorists face is the parking ticket. It's one thing parking in a spot with a parking meter and coming back to the car and finding a parking ticket stuck to the windscreen after overstaying, according to the meter. But was that meter accurate? Many parking meters are not accurate at all, even modern electronic meters, but according to the governments and councils operating them, those meters do not even have to be tested and certified as being accurate under the National Measurement Act and that is a disgrace in itself.
Then there is the issue of being booked for allegedly overstaying on a timed parking spot without a meter, for instance in a One Hour Parking area. Many motorist who have been booked for such an alleged offence knew that they had not overstayed at all, but had no evidence to disprove it. The burden of proof is with the accuser, but under our corrupt legal system, the word of a parking ranger operating to a booking quota (they deny it but it's true) will be taken over the word of a motorist literally every time. It's grossly unfair, but that is the way that the perverted system of so-called justice works in Australia.
But the GPS-equipped car black box recorder will prove beyond a shadow of doubt exactly how long a vehicle was parked in a particular spot. A car black box recorder such as the excellent Vacron CDR-E07-WiFi will record and time and date stamp the exact moment when the vehicle is parked, even showing video of the car doing this. The black box stops recording when the ignition is switched off, but resumes recording when the car is started and driven out of the parking spot, thus showing the time and date when that has occurred. So that will prove beyond a shadow of doubt how long the vehicle was parked and can be used to annihilate any wrongful parking ticket.
Road rage incidents are becoming more prevalent and drivers should take every possible step to protect themselves against maniacs like the one in this video clip that was recorded by a motorist's black box recorder.
If you are a martial arts expert and can disarm and disable a crazed assailant like the idiot in the above incident, then that's fine. Most drivers might prefer to avoid having a fight with a lunatic like this, but should have some means to identify a road rage maniac, especially if he causes damage to the driver's car.
In this particular incident, both the road rage lunatic and his car were clearly identifiable and there can be no question that this evidence is easily admissible in any court case. So the motorist who was attacked has the best possible chance of gaining redress for the damage caused to his car by this idiot, as well as the police having hard evidence to charge him with a number of serious criminal offences.
The black box recorder can literally be a life-saver as far as providing hard evidence to convict road rage perpetrators, as well as being able to prove who caused damage to their vehicles. A black box recorder is probably the best and cheapest insurance policy any driver can have.
Along with GPS and a Bluetooth hands-free car kit, it's hard to think of a more worthwhile car accessory than a black box recorder. This relatively inexpensive device could save motorists an absolute fortune by providing crucial evidence after an accident or in a court case, or merely debunking the testimony of cops who wrongly booked them for speeding or other alleged offences. Here are some of the features of a top-class black box recorder.
Many motorists purchase dashboard cameras (dashcams) because they believe that these devices will provide evidence in many driving incidents. A dashcam will video record road rage or an accident and many other occurrences. But the problem is that because dashcams do not have GPS, they do not provide the vital information that can beat wrongful speeding infringements.
This is why CARR always recommends that motorists purchase and use what is known as a black box recorder Not only is a black box recorder a dashcam, but because it is equipped with GPS, it will collect speed and position information and log them. If a motorist fighting a wrongful speeding ticket goes to court with a dashcam video, that is literally useless because it does not indicate the speed of the car when it was booked. However, a black box recorder will provide a video that is time and date stamped and most importantly, will provide the speed of the car and even display it on a Google Map to prove exactly where the vehicle was at the time.
Not only that, in the event that police wrongly book a motorist for holding a mobile phone while driving, a dual camera black box recorder will provide incontrovertible video evidence that the motorists was not doing so and that the booking was wrongful. CARR has seen a number of case histories where motorists have been booked for this. One instance being a person who has never even owned a mobile phone.
The black box is very small and is usually mounted unobtrusively on the windscreen or on top of the dashboard. It records audio, video and GPS coordinates to a flash memory card on a rolling basis. It fills the card with data and then overwrites the oldest data as it records, just like an aircraft black box. The beauty of this device is that the flash memory card can be inserted into a computer and using the provided software in conjunction with Google Maps, it can recreate the exact movements of the car, complete with time stamped audio and video.
So let's say that a motorist is travelling at the legal speed limit in a 60 kph zone and is pulled over by a cop and booked for speeding at 80 kph. In normal circumstances and in the absence of witnesses, that motorist would have virtually no hope of fighting that booking. This has happened countless times and the police know that motorists don't stand much chance of beating those bookings in court. It is their word against that of the policeman and unless a magistrate can be shown otherwise, the policeman's testimony usually wins out.
But imagine the look on that cop's face when the motorist goes to court and inserts the flash memory card into a notebook computer, fires up the logging software with Google Maps and shows the court the exact moments before the booking, the actual video footage of the booking, including the exact location, the speed of the car and even the recorded dialogue with the cop? With hard evidence of wrongful booking, the magistrate would have no recourse but to dismiss the infringement. What's more, the motorist would have grounds to mount a civil lawsuit against the police.
A small black box should be very unobtrusive from the outside of a vehicle. The idea is that cops who pull motorists over will not notice the black boxes in their vehicles and that they have captured their driving and logged everything. If the cops then proceed to wrongfully book those motorists, they will get a very nasty shock in court when they are cross-examined on the witness stand and then the motorists surprise them with hard evidence that demolishes their testimony and their entire accusations of speeding.
It must be understood that if police are permitted to set out and entrap people by lying in wait for them and permitting them to commit minor offences in order to hit them with infringement notices, then motorists have every right to use every means at their disposal to thwart them. Police are supposed to be servants of the people. We should not expect them to try and entrap us to rip us off. The black box recorder is just another tool in a motorist's arsenal of protective measures and it's perfectly legal. Motorists are under no obligation to tell a cop that they have this device operating.
Here is a small list of the very many driving offences where a black box recorder can prove that you were not committing them. But without the hard evidence from that device, a cop can merely make allegations about what you were doing and you don't stand much chance of disproving his testimony in court without hard evidence.
Most black box recorders have one forward-facing camera, but better models now feature a second camera that will record inside and possibly behind the car. On the face of it, having a video and audio recording of the happenings inside a vehicle may not appear to be a good idea, but in light of two significant court cases in 2013, I have had a major rethink on this issue. This is why.
. In NSW, Marina Alexiou was booked for allegedly holding a mobile phone while driving when in fact she was holding a pack of Tic Tac candy. Peter Richards in South Australia spent a year fighting a wrongful booking of allegedly holding a mobile phone when he did not even have one in his possession. An elderly driver in Western Australia spent over one year fighting an allegation that he was holding a mobile phone while driving, yet he had never owned such a device. These three examples are just the tip of the iceberg and indicate that motorists should have the means to record hard evidence that they were not touching mobile phones when they were booked for doing so.
The other prevalent wrongful infringement is that of not wearing a seat belt. So what can you do if a cop pulls you over and claims that you were not wearing your seat belt? It's your word against his in court and if that is all you have, you will almost certainly lose your case. But if you go to court and allow the cop to perjure himself and state that he saw you driving without wearing a seat belt and then you produce that time and date stamped GPS video that shows that you were indeed wearing your seat belt at the time he booked you, you will not only win your case hands-down, but you will also have grounds to sue for damages.
For far too long, police have had the power to book motorists without a shred of evidence to support their allegations, especially when they have been trying to fill their booking quotas - and those booking quotas certainly do exist. Police know that motorists do not stand much of a chance in court if they challenge those wrongful bookings, because from clear observation in many courtrooms, I have seen how magistrates lean towards the testimony of police over that of the defendants, even though the Police Integrity Commission has proven time and time again that police have an appalling record of criminality and corruption.
So police often hand out infringements, even if no offences have been committed, simply because even if they are thrown out in court, in virtually every instance, police walk away completely unscathed and are not held to account for their flawed and often perjured testimony. However, their victims are not so lucky, being dragged through the courts on a number of occasions because the unfair system of traffic infringements has been corrupted to put the onus of proof onto motorists instead of forcing police to prove their allegations beyond a shadow of doubt. This is the first thing that every motorist fighting an infringement should state to the court, that the onus is completely on the prosecution to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt with hard evidence, not allegations.
In the cases of Alexiou and Richards, there was not one shred of evidence to prove that these motorists were holding mobile phones while driving, but police booked them anyway. If Alexiou and Richards had black boxes that had recorded time and date-stamped videos of their activities inside their vehicles at the time of those wrongful bookings, they would have beaten them on the spot, instead of being dragged through long-running court cases. Not only that, they would have in their possession the hard evidence needed to sue the daylights out of those cops who tried to railroad them and the states that employed them.
Police who perpetrate such wrongful bookings need to be made to suffer a severe penalty for causing such unnecessary grief to innocent people. Those cops should never be allowed to walk away without paying a hefty price for their transgressions.
So after these two significant court cases, it is good insurance to have video recordings of a driver's activities. This does not mean that drivers have to provide courts or police with any recordings. The only recordings that should be made available as evidence are those which prove the innocence of the drivers at the time of infringements. There is no law against permanently erasing recordings from other times.
There are many excellent dual camera black box recorders on the market these days, but most of them have the one feature that I don't like - separate cameras. Units such as some of the BlackVue models have great features, but they have a main unit with the front camera and GPS receiver inside, but the rear camera is a separate unit that is usually installed to record out of the rear window of the vehicle.
There are two problems with this. Firstly, if the second camera is not recording the interior of the vehicle and the driver and passengers, the driver will not have any evidence to prove to a court that he was wearing a seat belt and also not holding his mobile phone while driving. Secondly, if the second camera has to be wired to the main unit and then positioned at the rear of the vehicle or indeed anywhere, it makes it very cumbersome - if not impossible - to easily take the unit away on trips and use it in a rental car. But no such issues arise with the Vacron CDR-E07D-WiFi car black box recorder.
This particular all-in-one unit is not the cheapest on the market, but it is certainly less expensive than many competitors that do not offer the same features. It offers a small and unobtrusive form factor - 114mm x 60 x 25mm and has everything built-in - two cameras that record time and date-stamped video outside and inside the vehicle, GPS that records speed and displays the vehicle's position on a Google Map and other features such as a motion sensor impact recorder for logging collisions. It also has integrated Wi-Fi that sends data to the Vacron Viewer smartphone application, such as video from the two cameras and the ability to take snapshots of camera views and video clips from the cameras.
The tiny size makes it easy to install and hard to see from outside the vehicle, which not only reduces temptation to thieves, but also reduces the chances of a cop seeing it when he pulls you over and wrongfully books you for holding your mobile phone while driving or not wearing a seat belt. Imagine his face when after you grill him in court and he lies about this under oath and then you produce a time and date stamped GPS-logged video showing that you were driving within the speed limit, not driving dangerously or distractedly and you were indeed wearing your seat belt at the time and not holding your mobile phone. Such hard evidence will crucify any cop who dares to give false testimony against you.
The above photo is from the Vacron CarBox Player software that is used to play and store data from the Vacron CDR-E07-WiFi. This came from my own Vacron and was recorded in May 2017 on Kevin Coombs Avenue in the Sydney Olympic Park precinct. The data is very comprehensive and provides all the information that can be used to beat any wrongful bookings, as well as provide hard evidence in accidents and road rage incidents.
The two main video windows are from the forward camera and the rear camera, complete with date and time stamps. In this example, it is obvious in the video from the rear camera that both I and my son are wearing seat belts and I am not holding my mobile phone. So there is no way that a cop could get away with "stitching me up" me for those offences. Both the front and rear camera videos can be played in full screen mode.
The panel on the left shows the GPS speed at the time I was driving on Kevin Coombs Avenue at Sydney Olympic Park - 60 kph in this 60 kph zone, inside the speed limit and provably so. There are GPS coordinates in that panel, so there is no question as to where my car was at the time. The compass icon will pop up a compass pointing to the direction my car was travelling at that moment.
Above that speed panel is the Google Map, clearly showing the exact location of my car and a trace of my path where I had been driving. So if a cop had been following me in an unmarked car and had then booked me for an offence and alleged that I had been on a different road and speeding, or indeed any other "verballing", the Google Map with its data, along with the time and date-stamped videos and GPS speed data would wipe him out in any courtroom.
Under the GPS speed data panel are the various playback controls and a volume control for audio playback. The Vacron has a microphone, so if a cop sticks his head into the car window and gets belligerent, a recording will be made of it. You can slow down or speed up the playback for closer examination in case of any incident that was recorded. There is a G-Sensor icon that will pop up the three axis G-Sensor data, showing bumps and impacts - terrific for insurance claims in collisions with other vehicles. On the left are icons for backup, settings and other features.
Now to the WiFi. This latest model has an integrated WiFi dongle and it enables communication with the free Vacron Player application on a smartphone. The Vacron Player can be downloaded for iPhone from the Apple App Store or for Android phone from the Google Play website.
Here are two photos of my iPhone screen with the Vacron Player application. The first photo is the video from the front camera and the second photo is from the rear camera. This is terrific, not just for checking what the cameras are seeing, but making sure that they are working and it will take snapshots and record videos from the cameras. There is a recording LED on the Vacron unit to show that it is functioning, but the ability to see exactly what the Vacron is doing with the Vacron Player smartphone application is very useful - and the application is free to download.
So this Vacron CDR-E07D-WiFi gives the complete picture and provides hard evidence as to exactly what has happened whenever the vehicle is being driven. This device is essentially the infallible silent witness that is there at all times to prove that a driver was not speeding, not driving dangerously or distractedly and was wearing a seat belt and was not holding a mobile phone - all favourite offences that cops like to book motorists for, but that are almost impossible to beat in court without that evidence.
Magistrates will almost invariably take the word of a cop over that of a motorist trying to beat a ticket - but the hard evidence from the Vacron will immediately provide the evidence that will torpedo any wrongful prosecution.
The perfect example of this occurred in September 2016, when Mark Trueno, the Lamborghini driver on the Gold Coast was "verballed" by a cop who even perjured himself in the witness box under oath. But once Trueno produced the evidence from his GPS-equipped car black box recorder, the magistrate had no option but to throw out the infringements. Without his black box recorder, he could have had his very expensive car impounded for a month and forced to pay a very large fine, because magistrates almost invariably believe the word of a cop over that of a defendant.
In today's driving environment where state governments are out to extort every possible dollar out of motorists and have deployed speed and red light cameras and sent out cops to hide in bushes to book motorists on any pretext, anybody who drives around without a top-line GPS-equipped dual camera car black box recorder is just asking for trouble.
The cost of the Vacron CDR-E07D-WiFi is far less than the fine for speeding in a NSW school zone or holding a mobile phone while driving. Not only fantastic for providing hard evidence to a court of wrongful speeding bookings, but also in the case of a collision, the evidence from this black box will leave no doubt as to which driver was at fault. This will save a lot of grief if a driver who caused a collision tries to deny that it was his fault. Without evidence, this is often hard to prove, but time-stamped video and audio footage and GPS data will provide all the hard evidence needed to determine exactly what happened.
Because the Vacron is an all-in-one unit, it only takes a moment to unclip it from a car windscreen and throw it into a suitcase along with a cigarette lighter power cord. Then it can be taken on vacations or work trips and can be stuck onto the windscreen of a rental car. This will offer the same protection when a motorist is using another vehicle as if that motorist was driving his own car.
The large pane in the display shows the actual video footage of the view out of the windscreen with a time and date stamp. Below that is the car's exact speed and other data, including impact sensor logging. The top right pane shows video from inside the vehicle. The bottom right section has a Google map showing the exact position of the car. The display can be changed to bring up more data as required.
This graphically shows the sort of real-time data logging that can be achieved by a black box such as the Vacron CDR-E07. This device logs virtually every important parameter of every car journey, including speed and GPS location at any given time.
Without this sort of hard evidence, a motorist has literally no hope of defending himself against wrongful bookings by cameras or police. But armed with a notebook computer and the data from the journey where the booking took place, the motorist can walk into court and literally destroy the prosecution case and have a very good claim for all costs plus punitive damages. Wrongful booking is no different than wrongful arrest.
Motorists often do not realise that they have been booked by speed cameras at the actual times of the infringements, because nowadays most of those revenue-raising devices use infra-red illumination and there is no visible flash when they are triggered. Also, the infringement notice may not arrive for some weeks. So motorists are at a severe disadvantage when contesting speeding tickets because their memories would probably not even recall where they were driving or the speed at which they were travelling at the time of the alleged infringements. But a black box recorder's data card will certainly have all this information.
But because the black box overwrites the oldest data as the flash memory card fills up, the evidence to fight a wrongful infringement received one month after the alleged offence might have been overwritten. Therefore, a good policy with such black boxes is to firstly buy the largest memory card that the black box will accept and it should be at least a Class 10 card for speed of recording. That will allow users to have longer intervals between backups. The motorist should copy the contents of the flash memory card to a computer at suitable intervals and store the files for a couple of months. Once enough time has expired where the motorist is convinced that he has not been booked, then those files can be erased.
If a motorist receives an infringement notice and finds that he has been booked by a speed or red light camera, then he can retrieve the particular data file from his computer and use it as prima facie evidence for his court challenge to the booking. If a motorist is pulled over by a cop and booked, he can immediately copy the black box file to his notebook computer and present it as hard evidence in his court defence.
With governments even admitting that they are using police and speed cameras as revenue-raising taxation methods against motorists, all drivers need to be able to defend themselves against wrongful bookings, because no matter what the police say or deny, they certainly do work to quotas and many of them are corrupt enough to wrongly book motorists to fill those quotas, knowing that very few motorists would bother contesting a fine in court and usually have no way of proving that they were not committing any offences.
Motorists need every possible weapon in their arsenals to prevent themselves from being victims of rapacious money-grabbing governments and crooked cops, so a GPS with camera warnings to help avoid speed cameras and toll roads is essential. It is always better to avoid problems, rather than have to go and fight for justice. However, the black box is the one tool that motorists will have to always be their witness in the event of wrongful bookings or when involved in collisions or other road incidents, even instances of road rage. The value of having a black box cannot be overstressed. The videos of that road rage incident in Brisbane in December 2012 say more than a million words as to the value of a black box recorder.