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Gadgets & Home Improvement

More using in-car cameras to help track traffic offenders

Police given 1,000 clips last year; insurance firms welcome trend.
The Straits Times - March 3, 2014
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More using in-car cameras to help track traffic offenders

It may be a case of "you can run, but you can't hide" increasingly for motorists here, as the growing use of in-vehicle cameras helps the police track down errant drivers.

The Traffic Police said it has received more videos of traffic violations recorded with these cameras, original videos of which can be submitted as evidence.

It started tracking the number of such videos last year after noticing a higher frequency in submissions. By the end of last year, it had received about 1,000 of these clips.

Observers say the trend can help make drivers more careful.

"The presence of these cameras certainly does create a sense of responsibility among motorists, who know there are more eyes watching them, and the industry supports this," said Mr Derek Teo, executive director of the General Insurance Association of Singapore.

The greater availability of video evidence has also helped to minimise disputes and facilitated negotiation and settlement of accident liability, he added.

The trend comes against the backdrop of more traffic offences here. Last year, there were 367,496, up 10.6 per cent from 2012.

When contacted, the Traffic Police declined to share details about specific cases, but the arrest of Quek Zhen Hao last month is one case in which such footage helped the police.

Quek was branded a "road bully" by netizens after two videos showing him driving recklessly went viral. The police arrested the 24-year-old on Feb 11, and investigations are ongoing.

In another case, a Caucasian cyclist was caught on camera taunting and gesturing rudely at a driver along Thomson Road on Feb 10. The video was uploaded on Facebook nine days later, and within another week, the police launched an appeal on social media for information on the cyclist to help investigations into a possible traffic offence. The cyclist has yet to be identified.

In recent years, drivers have been posting footage of road incidents on social media. A group of local road users even started an online community in 2011 called the Singapore Reckless Drivers, which shares these videos on a Facebook page to "create road safety awareness", said group co-founder Marc Lee, 30.

"On our page, there have been a few hit-and run-cases where the victim did not know who or what hit them till fellow community members submitted the video," said Mr Lee, a graphic designer. The Traffic Police encourages the submission of video evidence and has information on how to do so on its website.

The Traffic Police and the insurance association have been studying ways to encourage the purchase and use of in-vehicle cameras, which cost between $200 and $500.

The Traffic Police said it "remains supportive" of a motor insurance premium discount for those who install these devices.

But Mr Teo said it "can't dictate pricing" to its members, and a better option would be to promote awareness instead.



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