Art Ginter originally bought his dashcam so that he could show his family some of the places he goes and some of the sights he sees. He never thought it would save his bacon and be instrumental in getting charges laid against an encroaching driver. You’ve probably seen the YouTube video: Ginter’s brand new T660 Kenworth comes around a corner on two-lane Highway 11 just outside of Nipigon, Ont., and there’s a Freightliner coming the other way attempting to pass a snowplow. It’s snowing and there’s not much room on the shoulder.
Any driver watching this video can’t help but gasp. The opposing driver makes no attempt to pull back and a collision looks inevitable. Somehow Ginter manages to steer his rig and his cargo of eggs to the shoulder and bring it to rest after bumping alongside a series of cable and posts that kept him from going over a serious embankment.
I reached Ginter by cell phone somewhere in Washington State, on his way to Vancouver, B.C., and asked him what would have been different if the event hadn’t been recorded on his dash cam. “I would have been found at fault (by the insurance company) and I wouldn’t have got my deductible back.” His KW sustained $25,000 damage and the towing bill was another $2,500.
According to Ginter, the plow driver called in the incident right away assuming there had been a collision between two heavy trucks, but in actual fact there was no contact between the two rigs. OPP were looking for a truck involved in the collision but assumed there would be damage to this vehicle. Hence, the OPP had stopped a man driving a blue Freightliner but didn’t know he was the perpetrator at the time. But this guy was on the police record of having been stopped, and after some good sleuthing, most probably with the aid of the dash cam video, the cops laid three charges on a fellow from Milton, Ont., on Feb 12 (Ginter was run off the road on Jan. 4/2014). 31 year old Akmal Hayat is charged with careless driving, failing to report an accident and failing to remain on the scene.
The fact that the video went viral was a complete surprise to the Ginters. They posted the dashcam vid hoping that someone might be able to identify the other driver, thinking that it might get a few hundred viewings from fellow drivers. To their surprise the film has received 2.6 million hits and counting.
Art Ginter himself has only viewed the video a couple of times, but he’s a big believer in dash cams. However he balks at the idea of dashcams being mandated for commercial drivers and vehicles. “I’m uneasy when I hear the word ‘mandated’ in our industry. “There are already so many rules that we have to abide by and I wouldn’t want another one added to the list,” he told me. “But I think they are a real good idea. For a hundred bucks you can get one and it could save you a lot more in the long run.” Ginter said he will never drive his truck without a dash cam in the future.
Dash cams are ubiquitous in Russia to guard against police corruption and insurance fraud, which is widespread in that country. As far as I know, only one country, Austria, forbids their use, while they are legal almost everywhere else. Issues of privacy might have to be respected, but for the most part filming activities on public roadways is completely acceptable.
I can think of many instances where dash cams would have been invaluable: the case where the BC trucker stopped to help a motorist and was beaten unconscious, wouldn’t it be great if a record of the other vehicle would exist? I was myself run off the road by a driver on the 401 who pulled into my lane before completely passing me. I confronted the driver at the next weigh scale and called the OPP and the carrier. Nothing came of my complaint except a nasty call from the driver (evidently his employer gave hm my phone number). A visual record of the occurrence would have helped greatly to get this guy called up on the carpet.
I want to ask the drivers out there: Do you think dash cams should be used on Class 8 trucks? Do you use one yourself and have you ever had to use it as evidence? I understand some companies don’t want their facilities filmed. How do you get around this? Your thoughts are welcome.
Harry Rudolfs has worked as a dishwasher, apprentice mechanic, editor, trucker, foreign correspondent and taxi driver. He's written hundreds of articles for North American and European journals and newspapers, including features for the Ottawa Citizen, Toronto Life and CBC radio.
With over 30 years experience in the trucking industry he's hauled cars, steel, lumber, chemicals, auto parts and general freight as well as B-trains. He holds an honours BA in creative writing and humanities, summa cum laude. All posts by Harry Rudolfs