The impartial passenger: Is it time to get a dash cam?

Can your footage be used against you?

ORLANDO, Fla. – He has a dash cam. Scratch that, he actually has two. He drives about 30,000 miles a year and he’s been an active participant in the dash cam community for the past four years. Since he moved to Florida in 2016, he’s uploaded almost 50 videos to the web, bringing his YouTube channel of dash cam footage to about 250 posts. On YouTube, he goes by the name of Orlando Dashcam; for now, we’ll just call him Craig.

[WEB EXTRA: Dash Cams: Coming to a dashboard near you]

Originally from Michigan, Craig got into dash cams by first watching car crash compilations and then worst driver compilations. Soon, he had his first dash cam, started collecting his own footage, and was soon posting examples of people driving badly online.

Today, at the top of Craig’s list: a lot of drivers from the Sunshine State.

“South Florida specifically is probably the worst I would say almost in the country, but Orlando’s pretty close,” he says. For Orlando at least, Craig thinks some of it has to do with our popularity: Tourists from all over the country and the world come to Central Florida for our attractions and our beaches. But mix in those tourists with commuters, impatient, and distracted drivers...

Not so good.

“Texting and driving, it’s huge down here,” says Craig. He says he’s seen a lot of aggressive driving and excessive speeding. “Those are the three big things that we see in Orlando.”

Here’s a fact: ​Driving in our state is getting dangerous. According to a 2015 report from the Department of Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, between 2014 and 2015 there was an 8.77 percent increase in traffic crashes across the state. Over that same period, fatal accidents were up by 17.84  percent. Distracted driving alone (remember that texting and driving Craig says he sees a lot?) was responsible for injuring 39,468 people and killing 216. That last statistic is chilling when you consider this: In 2011, four years prior, the National Safety Council said state officials reported just one-tenth the amount of deaths on its roads (21) caused by distracted driving.

One of the most common questions Craig says he’s asked is what exactly are the legal ramifications of having a dash cam? When you have footage of an accident, do you have to hand it over to police?

For that answer, we turned to Trooper Specialist Steve Montiero of the Florida Highway Patrol.

“In a crash, you have crash privilege,” Montiero told News 6. “We’re not going to go out here and subpoena your information or seize your information,” he added. “At the end of the day we’re human just like everybody else, we need the public’s help to solve crimes and to figure out what kind of crashes took place.”

One interesting thing Montiero added: Although FHP considers dash cam footage personal owned property, he says if a criminal element exists, the state can exercise its option to go through the courts and let them decide whether or not that footage should be handed over.

“I’m not a perfect driver myself and I have never claimed to be,” says Craig. “For me, I try my best to be a better driver and the dash cam helps because it’s always recording what I’m doing.”

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