CTE road rage terrors flee after they spot dash cam
Motorist's confrontation with angry men ends after they spot his in-car camera
They went from raging tigers to tabby cats in the blink of an eye - and the sight of a dash cam.
The potential victim believes his car camera saved him from what could have been a violent road rage incident.
"When they came close, they realised my car had a camera that was recording the whole thing," says the motorist, who asked to be known only as Mr Kevin because he fears retaliation.
"The two of them became less rude and started walking back to their car."
That Sunday afternoon on July 5 began with a pleasant drive.
The 44-year-old events planner was making good time on the Central Expressway in light traffic.
He and his 69-year-old mother were on the way to pick up her heart medication at the Tan Tock Seng Hospital.
But as he filtered out to exit at Moulmein Road at around 4.30pm, the car in front suddenly screeched to a halt.
Instinctively, Mr Kevin jammed the brakes on his hatchback, stopping just in time to prevent a collision.
He tells The New Paper on Sunday: "I did not expect the car to suddenly stop. There was no car in front of him.
"To me it was weird. Why would he need to stop?"
Not wanting to cause a scene, Mr Kevin did not think much of it.
Seeing the car in front starting to move off, he prepared to do the same.
But without warning, the car suddenly braked again.
This time, Mr Kevin was a split second too late and his front bumper slightly nudged the other car.
"I couldn't understand what was going on. Why did the guy keep on stopping?" says Mr Kevin.
"It was almost as if he wanted me to bang into him."
As soon as his car nudged the one in front, two men got out of the car and approached Mr Kevin.
He recounts that they looked "angry", and they were shouting at him while making rude gestures.
The scene scared his mother. Mr Kevin had to calm her down while keeping his cool.
He says: "It was they who stopped and made me bang into them. I should have been the angry one."
As they approached his car, the men started accusing Mr Kevin of deliberately not stopping in time.
But Mr Kevin argued that he had not seen any car, and there was no reason for them to stop.
"They kept on repeating: 'Got car in front, got car in front', even though there was no car, and they had no legitimate reason to suddenly jam the brake," says Mr Kevin.
But when the duo got close to Mr Kevin's car, they suddenly froze.
The entire incident was recorded on Mr Kevin's dashboard camera.
Mr Kevin believes that once the pair saw his recording device, they backed off.
Later, a third man appeared from in front of their car and approached Mr Kevin's car but was stopped by its driver and disappeared off-camera.
The incident was over as quickly as it happened. The pair quickly sped off.
Mr Kevin considered chasing them but decided against it because he did not want to alarm his mother.
Mr Kevin, who installed the camera in his car two years ago, feels fortunate that the surveillance prevented him and his family from getting hurt.
"I had the evidence that it was not my fault," says Mr Kevin. "Even if they wanted to insist that I hit them, the footage in my camera would have showed the truth."
Cameras can hinder
There could be more than meets the lens when it comes to camera footage.
And it could hinder the course of justice.
In April last year, Norwegian Arne Corneliussen was sentenced to 10 weeks' jail for assaulting cabby Chan Chuan Heng in September 2014 after a night of drinking.
During the trial, a 40-second video captured by the taxi's in-car camera was played in court. In the video, Mr Corneliussen is seen chasing the cabby twice.
Mr Corneliussen, a 51-year-old permanent resident, pleaded guilty to one count of voluntary causing hurt by grabbing Chan's neck and choking him.
But newspaper reports prompted two witnesses to step forward with their versions of what happened.
Mr Roslan Zainal and Mr Mohamed Ayub Shaik Dawood testified that it was Chan who assaulted Mr Corneliussen first.
The two witnesses had left the scene before police arrived and reported what they saw only in May 2015, a month after Mr Corneliussen was sentenced.
The new evidence led to the quashing of Mr Corneliussen's initial sentence. He was released after spending 5½weeks in jail - more than half his original sentence.
The case was then sent back to the State Courts, where Mr Corneliussen was fined $2,000 on a lesser charge of causing hurt by wrapping his arm around the cabby's neck.
Chan was subsequently charged with voluntarily causing hurt and providing false information to the police. His trial will resume on Friday.
Past cases of help
Boy hit by car, driver blamed
Last Tuesday,social media was abuzz over a video of a schoolboy who was hit by a car and sent hurtling through the air after being hit.
The video, uploaded by Facebook user Suzy Adorabella Lylian showed that the boy had dashed across the road without looking right or left.
This initially prompted some netizens to blame the driver. But others pointed out how the camera footage showed that the boy was irresponsible and did not take proper safety precautions before crossing the road.
PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER SUN
Video footage shows maid hurting child
She had lashed out at her employer's two toddlers, thinking that nobody would find out.
In October 2014, Indonesian maid Khaerun Nisa Selfitriya kicked Mr Christopher Sun's 21-month-old daughter.
When Mr Sun confronted Khaerun, she told him that his daughter was hurt in pre-school. But Khaerun, 28, did not know about the closed-circuit television in Mr Sun's four-room flat in Woodlands.
When Mr Sun checked the footage, he saw his daughter being kicked by Khaerun, causing her to fall on her right side and hit her head on the floor.
In January, Khaerun was sentenced to four months' jail.
Dash Cameras doing well
There are eight million mobile phones in Singapore, far more than there are residents.
That means more cameras, more pictures and more videos like never before.
But this has not stopped people from buying cameras for their cars too, says Mr Gary Chia, 44, product manager of dash camera company Blackvue.
Sales of Blackvue's dash cameras have been steadily rising by 30 per cent annually for the past five years.
Mr Chia says: "Cars are not cheap in Singapore. The first instinct of Singaporeans will be to find some way to protect it.
"It is just in our nature to want to get insurance for our expensive purchases.
"Even before they leave the showrooms or collect their cars, Singaporeans will want to have their cars protected."
But this behaviour is not confined to individual car owners.
Mr Chia says that dash cameras have become the "new normal" for business and organisations that use vehicles and have drivers.
He claims that Blackvue even supplies cameras to security agencies.
"We are constantly finding ways to improve and make (dash cams) better," he says, adding that dash cameras now can work like CCTV and upload footage to the cloud.
"Videos are a protective tool unlike any other.
"Singaporeans are a bit kiasu, so they'll always need them."
What Experts Say
Video camera footage - be it from a car dashboard camera, surveillance system or camera phone - has proven to be "very beneficial" in court, says lawyer Justin Tan.
Mr Tan, an associate lawyer at Trident Law Corporation, says: "During court hearings, it is usually the case of one witness against another and sometimes, it is hard to see the truth based on what they are saying.
"With video evidence, it is as objective as it gets, and it clears things up."
Hilborne Law's Rajan Supramaniam says that the use of video footage in court and police investigation has increased because they can provide good leads.
Mr Supramaniam says: "We are seeing an increase in the use of camera footage because we can use them to make inferences about the cases and form intelligent guesses... to understand the situation better."
But he is quick to add that camera footage cannot be considered in isolation, stressing that it is important to set the context for the videos.
"Eyewitness accounts, police investigations, incident details - all these give the videos context so that they can be used properly," says Mr Supramaniam.
He adds that video footage is also in itself not perfect, open to tampering and editing just like any other piece of evidence.
The way to counter this?
Verification from experts.
Mr Supramaniam says: "The image can be distorted, and this is where experts come in because people will be concerned about authenticity."
But even the mere presence of the cameras can help too.
Owning a camera that is constantly watching, like the ones installed in cars or in public car parks, provides a form of insurance, says Mr Bernard Tay, chairman of the Singapore Road Safety Council.
"When things like accidents happen, you will not have time to react or recall what happened.
"Accidents happen in a matter of seconds, and when they occur, you will be focusing on what is happening instead of details like the car plate number or the time.
"With a camera, you'll be able to get all that easily."