Have a video of a bad driver? Know the dashcam dos and don'ts

An in-car camera can be used to capture video of traffic offenders. These videos clips can then be posted online by Internet users
PHOTO: Wow! Gadgets

With footage from in-car cameras being posted online to highlight or shame alleged traffic offenders, what are the video poster's legal obligations and liabilities?

Cameras are everywhere and they are capturing more of people's lives. These include personal cameras worn by police officers, closed-circuit television cameras (CCTV) and dashboard cameras (dashcams) and they have been used for everything from deterring illegal loan sharks to exposing road terrors.

Of these cameras, the ones that seem to get much of the attention are the dashcams.

Some of the footage ends up on Stomp, Facebook pages like Beh Chia Lor - Singapore Road and YouTube channels like Singapore Reckless Drivers community (SRD Community), which has more than 10,000 subscribers.

These videos can bolster the case against the errant motorists.

Certainly, it appears that more people are reporting road terrors to the police.

There was more than a 30 per cent jump in such reports between 2014 and last year. (See report above.)

So it is timely to note some important points on the use of dashcam footage.

1. Posting footage online is not enough, the police say you are 'strongly encouraged' to make a police report

A police spokesman said: "For traffic violations posted on social media platforms, Traffic Police (TP) will look into the matter and take follow-up actions if the violations come to TP's attention.

"Witnesses of such violations are strongly encouraged to come forward to lodge a police report, to assist the TP with investigations."

2. You'd better not lie

Lawyer Louis Joseph said the witness has to be truthful.

"If any lies or half-truths are told, they risk being charged (with) giving false information to a public officer," he said.

3. Dashcam footage and a police report may still not be enough

Said the police spokesman: "Additionally, the person reporting the violation has to undertake that he or she must be willing to appear in court as well."

4. Back up the footage with other sources

The witness' case can be bolstered by objective evidence like photos or videos with time and dates, and contact details of other witnesses, said lawyer Sunil Sudheesan.

"They will form part of the body of evidence against the accused," he said.

REPORTING TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS

You can lodge a police report for traffic violations at the nearest Neighbourhood Police Centre or Post.

You can also report the traffic violations or provide images or videos related to traffic violations to the Police online via the "Feedback on road users" portal at www.police.gov.sg/epc/index.html

The Traffic Police will look into the matter after a report is lodged.

About 3,500 violation reports were submitted via the e-feedback platform in 2014, and about 4,700 last year.


This article was first published on April 18, 2016.
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