Until now they've been used largely to convey Russian driving lunacy via YouTube, but the dash-mounted video camera could become a common sight in British cars.
Following the horrific pile-up on the Sheppey crossing in Kent nearly two weeks ago, in which some 130 cars were damaged due to reckless driving in poor visibility, British insurers are considering plans to offer reduced premiums to those who record their journeys.
It comes as they face an estimated £20million bill over the pile-up, which they will be left to pick up due to a lack of evidence making it difficult to assess the responsibility of individual drivers in the crash.
Simon Marsh, of in-car video camera manufacturer SmartWitness, said: "This is going to cost insurers millions and several insurance companies have spoken to us already about reducing premiums for drivers who install our vehicle accident cameras. We have previously piloted the SmartWitness system with HGV haulage fleets and they seen a huge decrease in insurance payouts because they can see immediately who is at fault.
"Insurance firms have already been having to deal with bogus and exaggerated whiplash claims and now they are going to be faced with a huge claim from the Sheppey pile up which is going to be extremely hard to prove who caused. It's going to be a legal nightmare for all the insurers involved and without clear video footage from the event it's going to be practically impossible to prove who was at fault."
Such camera systems are now being fitted as standard in may HGVs, and have already reduced insurance payouts by 80 per cent.
The SmartWitness camera attaches to the windscreen of a vehicle, usually behind the rear-view mirror and records to a video SD memory card. It's GPS compatible, too, meaning a car's exact location and speed can be determined at any point along its journey.
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