Dash cams: the ideal eye-witnesses

News 6 traffic safety expert recommends everyone has one

By Erik von Ancken - Anchor/Reporter

Troopers say more people are putting dashboard cameras in their cars and that the videos they record are the ideal eye-witnesses.

That's because they help sort out exactly what happened, and who is to blame, in crashes.

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

"You can see the front windshield. It's amazing that they're alive," said Carl Bilancione, describing the moment he pulled up to see his son's car lying on its roof, smashed and shattered on the side of the 417.

"We thought he was dead when he pulled up to the 417," Bilancione said.

He said his son told him another driver slammed on his brakes and caused the crash in an apparent case of road rage, and he had the dash cam video to prove it.

"You can see right there, he's got his left finger out and he's flipping him off," Bilancione said, describing what that video shows. "The kid's behind him, riding his bumper."
Bilancione said his son was going too slow, so the driver behind him passed him on the left, gave his son the finger and then pulled in front, hitting his brakes.

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"Truck on the left, there's a car behind him, he can't stop," Bilancione said. "So what happens is, my son decides to go to the shoulder, but he loses control and then he tries get back into that lane and then that car speeds up -- and it tapped the rear wheel and it caused my son to flip. This is black and white."

But Bilancione's son is the one who got the ticket-- at first.

"The people behind him couldn't see that black car, so they thought my son was trying to pass this guy on the right," Bilancione said. "That's what they thought, nobody saw the dashcam."

"Without this camera, there's a whole other side of the story that never would've been told," said News 6 traffic safety expert and former Trooper Steve Montiero.

Montiero said more and more at crash scenes, witnesses and even the drivers involved are offering up their dash cam videos that show exactly what happened, no matter who says what.

"In my time as a trooper, I worked thousands of crashes, and I’m sure there's a couple hundred where I could never determine fault because of conflicting statements," Montiero said.

Troopers gave us another dash cam clip of a couple just cruising down the 408 when two street racers fly by, lose control and crash into each other. This video was a key piece of evidence in their investigation.

"If anyone was to come to me and ask if they should put a dash cam in their car, absolutely," Montiero said.

"That's the whole point. It's your word against the other guy's word," Bilancione said. "And unless you have some sort of documentation that illustrates, in my opinion, beyond a reasonable doubt, this is black and white, you can't alter this."

Carl Bilancione said after his son's accident, he got dash cams for his entire family.

"I say you got to be insane if you don't have a dash cam. It's to protect you -- to protect you, your family and your livelihood," Bilancione said.

You can find dash cams for as little as $20. Experts recommend getting one with a time and date stamp, and maybe even one with a GPS, so it records your location and your speed. That information may come in handy, especially if you ever have to go to court.

Montiero also said dash cams are also getting results when it comes to insurance fraud because when there's video, it's a lot tougher to file fraudulent claims, and that keeps your premiums from going up.


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