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Fireball videos reveal Russians’ dash-cam use

The meteor that exploded over Russia and injured nearly 1,000 people Friday morning was astonishingly well-documented by amateur videographers, and many of the videos seem to have been captured from the dashboards of cars.

All of the available footage raises the question, why do so many Russians have dashboard video cameras?

Answer: to prove who was at fault in car accidents.

Basically, Russia’s motorists are a different breed. Russia has one of the highest car-accident rates in the world, a fact that Dmitry Medvedev, the former president and current prime minister, once blamed on the “undisciplined, criminally careless behavior of our drivers,” as well as poor road conditions. Hit-and-run crashes are incredibly common, as apparently are crafty, car-related hustles. Drivers of already dented cars will back purposefully into other cars in an attempt to extort money from their owners. Pedestrians will throw themselves on car hoods at crosswalks and then lie on the asphalt, pretending to be injured.

And in court, dash-cam footage is the most reliable way to prove what really happened. According to a post on Jalopnik, a blog covering cars and car culture, titled Why Russians Are Obsessed With Dash-Cams: “Dash-cam footage is the only real way to substantiate your claims in the court of law. … Get into a minor or major accident and expect the other party to lie to the police or better yet, flee after rear-ending you.”

Dash-cam footage also aims to guard against bribery, brutality and intimidation by traffic police, which 32 percent of Russians called the most corrupt institution in the county.

Capturing the spectacle of a meteor is just a side effect of a typical Russian’s traffic-related due diligence.