Friday, 5 October 2012

The Rise of the Head Cam

“Big brother is watching you” was a slogan immortalized in Orwell’s 1984. It conjures up images of the totalitarian state spying on it’s citizens in order to control them. However, even Orwell himself could not have predicted how the tables could be turned. This has been the case for some time with more and more people carrying phones with the capacity to take video footage at the press of a button.

Riding whilst shooting a video from a mobile phone is obviously not a good idea but now cyclists do have the ability to use technology to get justice and to expose poor driving. For under £200 you can now mount a small camera on your bike or your helmet to record your ride. The picture quality is improving all the time, and affordable HD cameras are starting to hit the market. Some riders like CycleGaz and Magnatom are fitting two cameras so that they can capture images ahead and behind at the same time. There is also the possibility of combining the footage with GPS data to show speed at impact. As this technology gets more affordable, more examples of bad driving are appearing on You Tube. There are some shocking videos on the internet and in fairness there are examples of bad riding as well as bad driving.

At Levenes we have already dealt with one case where the cyclist’s helmet cam provided the best evidence of what happened and enabled us to secure a favourable settlement for our client.

As well as helping to win a case after an accident, head cam footage can also be used in near-miss cases especially against fleet drivers. Some of the worst offenders are so-called “professional” drivers – taxi and private hire drivers, delivery van drivers and so on. Where happily no injury has occurred, there is still the possibility of using the footage to complain to the company concerned. From what I have seen on a few blogs, the companies involved are finding it difficult to know exactly how to react when somebody actually exposes the poor driving of one of their drivers. In time, they will realise that they have to take this seriously. Driving standards should improve.

Ironically, this technology is already being used by some commercial fleets as it helps them to reduce their claims and insurance costs by mounting a camera in the cab of a lorry. Now cyclists can use the same technology to their advantage.

A famous American judge once said that Sunlight is the Best Disinfectant. By shedding light on how a large number of drivers drive, cyclists have a chance to disinfect our roads. This can only be a good thing.

written by Levenes cycling Solicitor, Tim Beasley

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