Nightly News   |  February 19, 2013

Dashcams capture chaos on Russian roads

One of the reason there were so many images of the meteor that slammed into the Earth’s atmosphere is because dashcams are so prevalent throughout Russia. Few drivers leave home without the small, inexpensive cameras because they offer proof of what actually happened after an accident. NBC’s Jim Maceda reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> so we all woke up last friday morning to the story of the meteor and the damage it did in russia and the numerous videos of the flaming trail across the sky. almost as amazing as the meteor was the huge number of high-quality hd videos from what looked like a fleet of dashboard cameras in vehicles all over russia. then we did some checking, and we discovered these cameras are a big thing among russians, and they see a lot of things. our report tonight from our own longtime moscow veteran, nbc's jim maceda.

>> reporter: when that meteor came crashing into siberia last week, the moment was captured for the ages from just about every angle. caught in the act by these, small, inexpensive dashboard cameras, dashcams. and in a country where traffic can be a matter of life and death , few russian drivers leave home without them. "it protects me from the lawless, drunken idiots on the road," says dmitry. "if someone cuts me off, i have proof it wasn't me." but all those cameras are also capturing so much more. how about a tank crossing your lane? a truckload of cows spilling in front of you. or the wheel of a crashed plane slamming into you. or even being buzzed by a helicopter. or a fighter jet . with road rage commonplace, those dashcams document who started the brawl or fired the pistol. evidence that can trump even the most corrupt russian traffic cop.

>> you always suspect that the policemen may not treat you fairly, that the policeman's opinion may be bent with good connections and money, and this happens all the time.

>> reporter: and those cams often capture scams. this guy is actually trying to get hit, slightly, by an oncoming car. or this car braking suddenly, triggering a fender bender and possibly some quick cash unless dashcam video can prove what really happened. through all the mayhem, dashcams are much more than a tool for survival. they're providing a unique form of russian entertainment gone viral. and sometimes it's magic. jim maceda, nbc news.