|Dashboard vehicle cameras come standard in many foreign countries because of higher rates of insurance fraud overseas, but many U.S. drivers have been slow to adopt the technology.
In Chicago, a series of high-profile incidents involving vehicle cameras are helping raise public awareness of the technology. On Tuesday, June 2, a Chicago bus “inexplicably” ran a red light and plowed through a busy sidewalk in the middle of rush hour, killing one woman and injuring eight more pedestrians.
Because the bus driver was the only occupant in the vehicle at the time of the fatal crash, police say the dashboard camera footage will provide crucial evidence about the accident. Witnesses say the bus came to a stop at a red light, but then suddenly rushed forward and jumped the curb at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Lake Street. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, at least 900 people are killed and 2,000 more injured annually by vehicles running red lights.
Chicago Transportation Authority spokesman Brian Steele offered few clues about the accident, only repeating witness accounts.
“We don’t know the full circumstances yet…The operator had stopped at this red light and — for reasons not yet known — the vehicle proceeded into the intersection.”
In fatal crashes, vehicle cameras can provide police vital clues during their investigations, such as proof that the driver was texting or otherwise distracted. The crash near Lake Street was just the first in a string of high-profile stories involving dashboard cameras so far this June.
Last week, six unnamed Chicago police officers were named in a settlement with the family of LaQuan McDonald, fatally shot by police in 2014. The police deny wrongdoing in the case; however, dashboard camera footage provided enough evidence for the victim’s family to force a settlement. Another Chicago man made national news this week when vehicle cameras captured him stealing and crashing an ambulance. Then, over the weekend, a dashboard camera in a parked car captured vital evidence in a shooting.
It remains to be seen if these incidents will lead to increased adoption of the technology by civilians.
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