YouTube

There’s one problem with dashcam clips – the people filming them

MY COPY of Ronin on DVD has gathered a bit more dust. The repeats of The Sweeney on ITV4 have missed out on another viewer. Everything but the omnipresent reruns of Top Gear on Dave have been given a miss in the long week between Christmas and New Year – because I’ve discovered dashcam videos on YouTube instead

Which is a shame, because as automotive action goes they’re almost always terrible. There is no Robert De Niro shooting at baddies from the sunroof of a Mercedes 450SEL 6.9 or Steve McQueen looking surly at the helm of a Mustang GT390 – but there is a clip of a chap in an MoT-expired BMW 318i driving the wrong way around a roundabout in Essex and brake-checking the film car because he’s having an industrial bout of road rage.

Then there are the Vauxhall Insignias that sweep across all three lanes of a busy M6 without looking, the dented Peugeots that pull out in front of cyclists and the near-misses on country lanes. A couple of years ago I wrote about how YouTube was overflowing with Russian dashcam clips and that it’d only be a few years before Britain followed suit. Well, now it has, but there’s a key difference between what passes for in-car terror in Moscow and automotive indignation in Maghull.

Watch the Made In Russia clips enough and you wouldn’t be surprised if the Lada in question was taken out by a freak meteorite or an angry farmer branding a Kalashnikov, but I reckon in at least half of the UK clips the driver doing the filming is at least partly responsible. Our not-entirely-thrilling car chase with the BMW started because the 3-series pulled out a junction – but rather than slowing down, the driver with the dashcam puts his foot down, gets dangerously close and then blasts his horn. What happened to just muttering under your breath that he’s a bit of an investment banker and getting on with it instead?

There are plenty of clips involving the camera car ploughing into a roundabout at 40mph and the driver screaming in pent-up rage because someone then pulls out in front of them – surely, you shouldn’t be doing that speed into them anyway? Same goes for all the ones involving a heavy dose of country lane ABS because there just happens to be a tractor on the other side of the bend. In the past you’d be lucky to escape the encounter with a light telling-off, but nowadays you can turn the tables and stick the entire episode on YouTube instead.

Read the comments and the vast majority of the wrong ‘uns get taken to task almost immediately, but I do genuinely wonder whether these clips – which are supposed to be sorting out insurance disputes, anyway – are making the problem worse, not better.

You could spend the £100 a half-decent dashcam costs making your own driving a bit better, but that won’t get you a thumbs up on YouTube. Or a thumbs down, for that matter.