Everybody has heard of the "black box" (actually orange in colour) that all large commercial aircraft carry. This device is a multi-channel rolling cockpit voice recorder and data logger that records all the aircraft performance parameters, position, speed and altitude, instrument readouts and other information. 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 dashcam 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 corruption of the political class never seems to change.
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, a 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 most of the 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, so there is a massive conflict of interest that does not serve the impartial application of proper justice.
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 dashcam.
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 completely incompetent magistrate preferred to take an eyeballed guess from a cop over hard technical electronic evidence downloaded from a GPS receiver - the same GPS that is used by airliners, the military and even police - showing the world that the law a complete ass.
The Simotas case shows that there are incompetent or corrupt magistrates who prefer to 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 dashcam.
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 was forced to refund many thousands of infringements after this deliberate scam by its administration was revealed and some officials were even jailed.
All drivers have approached intersections at the legal speed limit just as the lights were changing to amber at one time or another. All drivers have had to make a split-second decision as to whether to slam on the brakes and come to a screeching halt or hit the accelerator and drive through the intersection on the amber light. If drivers choose to try and stop, they may skid into the intersection and cause a massive danger, especially in wet conditions. If they choose to drive through on the amber light to avoid their cars being struck from the rear by the cars driving behind them, 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 those intersections very and video recording the traffic light phases, they don't stand a chance of beating such bookings in court. But if motorists show up in court with video clips of the exact moments that they entered and drove through the intersections, clearly showing that the amber phase was too short, they will not only beat the infringements, but have adequate grounds, as well as the hard evidence to sue the government for inflicting this scam onto them and trying to rip them off.
Going back to an intersection a week or a month after the date of a camera infringement and timing the amber phase is not really a good proposition, because the traffic light phasing may have been changed, thus removing the evidence that motorists need to beat the bookings. The only feasible way of obtaining the required evidence is that video recordings need to be made at the exact times of the infringements. The only way this can be done is by having a dashcam operating. Motorists may not even know that they were booked until they get infringment notices some weeks after the events, so having hard video evidence from that exact time is absolutely crucial for any court action to beat those bookings.
The most unfair aspect of the red light camera scam is that researchers have found that increasing the amber phase of traffic lights by one second massively reduced the accident rate at intersections, both in rear-end accidents and intersection crashes. The standard amber phase time at most intersections in Australia is 4 seconds. If this was increased to 5 seconds, the accident and death rate at intersections would fall dramatically, but this will almost eliminate the opportunity for revenue-raising, so that won't happen.
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 penalty notice stuck to the windscreen after overstaying, according to the meter. But was that meter accurate? Many parking meters, even modern electronic meters, are not accurate at all, 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 motorists 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 should be 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 and corrupt system of so-called justice works in Australia.
But a good dashcam will prove beyond a shadow of doubt exactly how long a vehicle was parked in a particular spot. A dashcam will record and time and date stamp the exact moment when the vehicle is parked, even showing video of the car doing this. The dashcam 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 dashcam.
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 dashcam 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 dashcam 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 top-class GPS-equipped dual camera dashcam. 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 dashcam.
Many motorists purchase simple dashcams because they believe that these devices will provide evidence in many driving incidents. A simple dashcam will video record road rage or an accident and many other occurrences. But the problem is that because simple 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 an all-in-one dual camera GPS-equipped dashcam. Not only is such a comprehensive dashcam better, but because it is equipped with GPS, it will collect speed and position information and log them. If motorists fighting wrongful speeding tickets go to court with simple dashcam videos that do not indicate the speed of their cars when they booked, they might as well save themselves the trauma and pay the fines. However, a top-class comprehensive dual camera GPS-equipped dashcam will provide video recordings that are time and date stamped and most importantly, will provide the speed of the vehicles and even display this on a moving map display to prove exactly where the vehicles were 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 dashcam that has the second camera recording in the vehicle will provide incontrovertible video evidence that the motorist 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 was of an elderly man in Western Australia who had never even owned a mobile phone in his entire life.
The comprehensive dashcam as described above 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 recorder. 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 a moving map, 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 almost always wins out. And the cop doesn't even care if the infringement is dismissed - he still gets paid.
But imagine the look on that cop's face when the motorist goes to court and presents the data from the dashcam 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 damages lawsuit against the state and the police.
A small dashcam should be very unobtrusive from the outside of a vehicle. The idea is that cops who pull motorists over will not notice the dashcams 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 testimonies 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 dashcam 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 dual camera GPS-equipped can prove that motorists were not committing them. But without the hard evidence from that device, cops can merely make allegations about what those motorists were doing and they don't stand much chance of disproving the police testimony in court without hard evidence.
Cheaper dashcams have one forward-facing camera, but better models 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 some significant court cases, there are very good reasons to record the driver at all times. This is why.
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. In fact in NSW, statistics show that NSW police officers have a whopping 2½ times higher rate of criminality than the general populace. Don't forget that statistic when cross-examining a cop who is under oath in the witness box in court.
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. They still get paid, whether they are out on the beat or attending court.
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 dashcams that had made 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 forced to endure 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. Victims of such blatant stitch-ups should demand that such cops are charged with criminal offences and are sacked if convicted.
So these two significant court cases of Alexiou and Richards, it proves that 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 all recordings made by their dashcams. 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. Police routinely erase irrelevant videos from their bodycams.
The perfect example of an attempted police stitch-up this occurred in September 2016, when Mark Trueno, a 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 dashcam, the magistrate had no option but to throw out the infringements. Without his dashcam, Trueno 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.
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 dashcam's data card will certainly have all this information.
But because the dashcam 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 is to firstly use the largest memory card that the dashcam 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 frequent 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 dashcam file to his 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 fines 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 dual camera GPS-equipped dashcam 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 such a dashcam 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 top-class dashcam.