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  1. #1
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    Curious if anyone has tried to submit a reckless driving video to police ....?

    As with many of you, I've seen some pretty ridiculous driving - some of it just plain stupid, and some of it just plain deadly. I've often thought "I wish I had video of that" as these incidents pass before my eyes. I've started to see a number of cyclists with the head mount cameras - and was curious if I recorded reckless driving, if the police would even care or act on the evidence?

    For instance, the other day, I was on a long straightaway on a back road. The road was fairly narrow. Another cyclist was approaching from the opposite direction. There was only one vehicle, a SUV, and they were coming from behind the other cyclist. They never slowed down, swung out entirely in MY lane, and basically ran me off the road. I had to slam my brakes (going 22mph), and then veer off the road, to avoid a head-on collision.

    Anyway, suppose I had video of this incident, and plate/identifying info was clear, and I brought it to the Police. Would they do anything? If so, I would be very interested in getting rigged up with a video camera.

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    I think they would do something about it. Unfortunately, because PA doesn't have license plates on the front, I would have a real problem testing my theory

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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    I think they would do something about it. Unfortunately, because PA doesn't have license plates on the front, I would have a real problem testing my theory
    I have the same issue here (no front license plate). However, I ride this road all the time, and the longest light in town is at the end of the road. There is a good chance I could have caught up with the SUV if I had turned around and raced after him/her. Of course, I'd be much more likely to do so if I was wearing a video camera and I knew the Police would act.

  4. #4
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    I have a belief most police departments couldn't CARE LESS about bicyclists' complaints about 'reckless drivers' and would fail to act in any way.

    the default response many bicyclists get upon calling 911 about a road rage or reckless driving incident is 'if the officer doesn't witness the event, there's no recourse."

    I'd avoid any notions about becoming a traffic enforcer with a video camera, and go about enjoying your rides.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
    I have a belief most police departments couldn't CARE LESS about bicyclists' complaints about 'reckless drivers' and would fail to act in any way.

    the default response many bicyclists get upon calling 911 about a road rage or reckless driving incident is 'if the officer doesn't witness the event, there's no recourse."

    I'd avoid any notions about becoming a traffic enforcer with a video camera, and go about enjoying your rides.
    I generally agree with your assessment ... that's been my opinion as well. But with video as a witness - can they really ignore the proof? Are they not legally obligated to act on it?

    One reason why many drivers do this kind of #$@% is because they know there is little chance of any repercussions. If I could hold some people accountable, I'd like to make a change in that behavior - in my own small way.

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    Senior Member dynodonn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    I think they would do something about it. Unfortunately, because PA doesn't have license plates on the front, I would have a real problem testing my theory
    In my last incident, my front mounted bike cam got a clear shot of the motorist's rear plate, vehicle model emblems, and window sticker, all at a 40 mph speed differential. I learned quickly that not all vehicles in our state, though it's required, have a front license plate, necessitating a front low mounted cam.

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    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    Hopefully I won't have to as there are laws against self incrimination, right? I don't want any video of me riding through stop signs and red lights, making illegal turns, going the wrong way on one-way streets...

    Seriously though, +1 on Bekologist. Vigilantism often comes to a bad end. You may want to keep the camera going in case you are involved in accident or are a victim of battery, or otherwise injured, where it may prove useful in your defense or gaining compensation for your injuries or losses.

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    Senior Member dynodonn's Avatar
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    Locally, due to our area's disproportionately high motor vehicle/bicycle/ped collision rates, and the state's funding level being tied to their progress in lowering it, our local law enforcement agencies have been forced to take aggressive/reckless driving reports very seriously.

  9. #9
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    A question, since pretty soon I'll be rigging my bike for video -- in a situation like the one in the OP, where you have a vehicle that almost takes you out, forcing you to take evasive action but there is no contact -- would that be a 911 call, or would that be best handled through a non-emergency number?
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  10. #10
    Senior Member dougmc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lineinthewater View Post
    But with video as a witness - can they really ignore the proof?
    Yes they can.

    Many departments have policies that require that they ignore it -- if a minor moving violation was not personally witnessed by an officer, they can not ticket for it. (More serious things they'll actually investigate -- but if it's just a standard moving violation, no.)

    Are they not legally obligated to act on it?
    Obligated by whom? And what's the recourse if they don't?

    You might find a law (or policy -- doesn't have the strength of a law, but it's pretty good) that requires them to take a report, but I doubt you'll find them obligated to much more than that.

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    a recent thread here proves that you can successfully bring charges yourself if you have witnesses. I would guess that video would work in lieu of witnesses.

    Seems to me that calling the cops and/or using the legal system is the opposite of vigilantism.

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    Senior Member degnaw's Avatar
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    It's been eight months since I submitted this video to Presque Isle park rangers, and I still havent received a formal response.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-UN_fRpQcI

  13. #13
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    I doubt that you would get much help from authorities until after a cyclist dies a slow agonizing death that drain the cyclist's entire family of their complete financial reserves, and causes a suicide of one parent and a sibling.

    By the way the "setup" for the question from the OP - does not confirm whether the "driver" of the vehicle is accurately identified. And remember, for anyone who cares - absolute ID of a "driver" is necessary if reporting these type of assault/abuse......
    Sorry about my comments - I thought you wanted honest feedback.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    a recent thread here proves that you can successfully bring charges yourself if you have witnesses. I would guess that video would work in lieu of witnesses.
    What thread? Was there actual contact, or just reckless driving?

    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    Seems to me that calling the cops and/or using the legal system is the opposite of vigilantism.
    Exactly.

  15. #15
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    I have not tried it, but suspect it would depend on the jurisdiction and motivation of the officers.

    A non-video example. I had a situation in Fort Collins, CO where I was in left turn lane and a car came right at me - just as they passed I heard them laughing as if they thought it was funny to play chicken with the cyclist.

    I was frustrated enough that I cycled over to the police station and asked to file a report. I reported their license and the officer indicated he would investigate. He called later that evening to let me know he talked with them and they recalled the incident but that they had not seen me and denied the laughing part. The officer told me it would essentially be my word against theirs and probably not strong enough to pursue.

    I dropped it. However, I appreciated the officer's follow through both for investigating and reporting back. I think even with a video, I would have a burden of proof and need to be prepared to put my effort in to follow issue through. I wouldn't expect the officers to just go ticket based on just a video - but instead facilitate place where I could state my case.

    I also think I was fortunate in Fort Collins jurisdiction and even what I had might not apply elsewhere.

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    the thing is, I have seen a lot of criminal behavior on the part of motorists, and yet when I talk to cops, they always say that they get more complaints about cyclists than they do about motorists. I think we should change that. They really don't like to get complaints.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    yet when I talk to cops, they always say that they get more complaints about cyclists than they do about motorists.
    Of course they do ... there are a he** of a lot more motorists than cyclists.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mev View Post
    I have not tried it, but suspect it would depend on the jurisdiction and motivation of the officers.

    A non-video example. I had a situation in Fort Collins, CO where I was in left turn lane and a car came right at me - just as they passed I heard them laughing as if they thought it was funny to play chicken with the cyclist.

    I was frustrated enough that I cycled over to the police station and asked to file a report. I reported their license and the officer indicated he would investigate. He called later that evening to let me know he talked with them and they recalled the incident but that they had not seen me and denied the laughing part. The officer told me it would essentially be my word against theirs and probably not strong enough to pursue.

    I dropped it. However, I appreciated the officer's follow through both for investigating and reporting back. I think even with a video, I would have a burden of proof and need to be prepared to put my effort in to follow issue through. I wouldn't expect the officers to just go ticket based on just a video - but instead facilitate place where I could state my case.

    I also think I was fortunate in Fort Collins jurisdiction and even what I had might not apply elsewhere.
    CO State Police have an online report system for cyclist to use. I would recommend you also submit the online report that will become a permanent record. Some have reported that once the State Troopers get a couple of reports on the same plate the send a letter and then esculate from there.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mev View Post
    I have not tried it, but suspect it would depend on the jurisdiction and motivation of the officers.

    A non-video example. I had a situation in Fort Collins, CO where I was in left turn lane and a car came right at me - just as they passed I heard them laughing as if they thought it was funny to play chicken with the cyclist.

    I was frustrated enough that I cycled over to the police station and asked to file a report. I reported their license and the officer indicated he would investigate. He called later that evening to let me know he talked with them and they recalled the incident but that they had not seen me and denied the laughing part. The officer told me it would essentially be my word against theirs and probably not strong enough to pursue.

    I dropped it. However, I appreciated the officer's follow through both for investigating and reporting back. I think even with a video, I would have a burden of proof and need to be prepared to put my effort in to follow issue through. I wouldn't expect the officers to just go ticket based on just a video - but instead facilitate place where I could state my case.

    I also think I was fortunate in Fort Collins jurisdiction and even what I had might not apply elsewhere.
    Ah, but isn't this exactly what many cities/counties/states are starting to do with red light cams? They're issuing tickets just on video evidence alone.
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  20. #20
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    Forgive my lack of knowledge as to citizen's rights and the law -- isn't it a citizen's prerogative whether to press charges? In other words, can't I charge someone with assault (or whatever the appropriate charge would be) if I have the evidence to support the charges? Or must the police or DA choose to accept and pursue the charges?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daves_Not_Here View Post
    Forgive my lack of knowledge as to citizen's rights and the law -- isn't it a citizen's prerogative whether to press charges? In other words, can't I charge someone with assault (or whatever the appropriate charge would be) if I have the evidence to support the charges? Or must the police or DA choose to accept and pursue the charges?
    Depends on your state laws for criminal cases.

    You get to decide if you sue someone in civil court.

  22. #22
    Senior Member dougmc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy View Post
    Ah, but isn't this exactly what many cities/counties/states are starting to do with red light cams? They're issuing tickets just on video evidence alone.
    In general the red light camera tickets are civil actions -- like parking tickets -- where tickets given by police officers are infractions or the lowest level of misdemeanor.

    Of course, some states may be different -- I'm certainly not familiar with all of them -- but this is generally how that works.

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    Commander, UFO Bike K'Tesh's Avatar
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    In Oregon, YOU have the right to issue a Citizen Initiated Violation (READ: Citizen's Arrest).


    Citizen Initiated Violation Action Pamphlet

    You could check your state's laws on the matter.

    These citations carry the full weight of an officer issued ticket, but according to the LEO I tried to get to issue one, it becomes a XXXX vs. The State of Oregon (bypassing city/county courts).

    In my situation, the LEO decided to go ahead and issue the ticket to the driver himself, thus saving me the hassle of the Citizen Initiated Violation. The driver was convicted.

    At the time, I didn't have a video camera (forward facing), but I do now, and am thinking about adding others (helmet, rear view, and possibly a left side view).

  24. #24
    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dougmc View Post
    In general the red light camera tickets are civil actions -- like parking tickets -- where tickets given by police officers are infractions or the lowest level of misdemeanor.

    Of course, some states may be different -- I'm certainly not familiar with all of them -- but this is generally how that works.
    Thing is though that the ticket is still being issued based on the video camera evidence. When in the past they would have been issued by an officer law.

    So if it's "good" enough for a red light runner why shouldn't it be good enough for more serious offenses?
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  25. #25
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daves_Not_Here View Post
    Forgive my lack of knowledge as to citizen's rights and the law -- isn't it a citizen's prerogative whether to press charges? In other words, can't I charge someone with assault (or whatever the appropriate charge would be) if I have the evidence to support the charges? Or must the police or DA choose to accept and pursue the charges?
    If criminal charges got to be issued by private citizens, legal chaos would erupt.

    Private citizens have no authority to issue criminal charges. criminal accusations, yes.

    as to videotaping 'close passes' and 'aggressive passing' and 'violations of 3 foot laws', a bicyclist is going to be putting a lot of energy into non-events in the eyes of the law.

    My impression is that only in the most egregious of harassment or endangerment scenarios is a bicyclists video going to garner anything other than suggestions from the police they've got more important things to be dealing with.

    like the video of the driver coming at Degnaw posted above. 8 months and no word. That type of complaint is going to simply waste a bicyclists time and energy, unfortunately.
    Last edited by Bekologist; 04-05-12 at 05:32 AM.
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