You can’t peruse videos on the internet for long before coming across shocking footage of a car crash recorded by a dash-mounted camera. The overwhelming majority of such videos are captured on Russian roads, but have you ever wondered why? It’s a little disconcerting when you first notice the trend. Are Russians just more prone to accidents? Well, that’s actually a surprisingly small part of the puzzle. Dash cams turn out to be nearly indispensable for Russian drivers.There are several hard truths that have led to the explosion in Russian dash cam videos, including poor road conditions. Those long, hard winters do serious damage to the roads and lead to really tough driving conditions when local governments can’t clear snow and ice. As a result, accidents do happen more frequently.It’s not all the fault of the elements, though. Corruption is rampant in the Russian Federation, and that’s led most motorists to take matters into their own hands. It’s not uncommon for a driver to be pulled over by the notorious Russian Highway Patrol (GAI) and harassed into paying a bribe. Dash cams afford at least a little protection from baseless accusations.Lax law enforcement has also made is easier for organized crime to make millions from insurance scams. It’s a straightforward racket — crashes can be staged, or already damaged cars presented as evidence of a crash that never even occurred. The perpetrators can certainly produce witnesses that corroborate their version of events.These scams became so common that Russian auto insurance companies have started denying claims with little reason. Buying a good policy that covers damage to your own vehicle is now prohibitively expensive for most drivers. When almost everyone is stuck with liability coverage only, no one is keen to take responsibility for an accident. Hit-and-runs and straight up lying about the cause of a crash are extremely common.This brings us to the Russian courts, which are often left to sort out the he-said-she-said mess of traffic accidents. Because of the prevalence of scams, corruption, and insurance-motivated lying, judges rarely accept verbal evidence in these cases. The Russian civil code allows judges a ton of latitude in determining what evidence can be presented in court. Eyewitness testimony can be offered, but it is rarely given much weight because of the myriad of issues discussed above. Dash cams won’t lie, so you really need one to have any hope of winning a case.The technology running dash cams has gotten small enough and cheap enough that most Russian drivers are happy to pay the price. Good quality dash cams can be bought in Russia for as little as $50, or as much as $200. This small expense can conceivably save thousands in the event of a crash.All these cameras work in the same basic way. They record constantly until their limited flash storage is full, then it is erased and recorded again. If nothing goes awry during the drive, you’re not losing anything important when the video is overwritten. If you end up in an accident, the files can be pulled off the device and saved for possible use later.Dash cams don’t just capture accidents the owner gets into, but anything that happens on the road. When drivers get something major on film, they usually upload it to YouTube or a similar site with more relaxed content policies. Semi trucks flattening cars, pedestrian hit by cars, and all manner of other car-to-car collisions end up online thanks to dash cams. It’s the sort of footage we don’t see much of in the western world.A strange confluence of factors in Russia have produced a somewhat disturbing record of modern transportation. It can be jarring to watch these videos, but they get plenty of hits. If anything, it should remind us that we always assume some risk by getting in a car. Buckle up, folks.