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Why Do So Many Russian Drivers Have Dashboard Cams?

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YouTube has become the depository for every lyric video, parody, and, apparently, copious amounts of shocking footage from dash-mounted cameras in Russia. In the latest to go viral, one man confronts the driver of the car behind him, and consequently gets beat up by a bunch of costumed characters, including SpongeBob SquarePants:

Dash cams aren’t completely foreign concepts to American drivers, but not everyone has one strapped on their vehicle’s dashboard—they're mostly devices for police officers and highway patrol. Why are these cameras a key part of technology in Russian vehicles?

An estimated one million Russian motorists have installed dash cams in their cars. Though some of them capture things like the 10-ton meteor that exploded in the atmosphere last year, the cameras are popular for just one reason: ensuring justice when it comes to proving accidents on the roads.

In 2012, Al Jazeera spoke with motorists who never drive without their cameras. One driver said others believe that police officers are only on the roads to take bribes, bending traffic laws—or ignoring them completely—to benefit themselves. A camera will save you from false accusations.

“In Russia, everyone should have a camera on their dashboard. It’s better than keeping a lead pipe under your seat for protection,” writes Marina Galperina, a New York-based blogger who hails from Russia.

According to Galperina, hit and runs are “very common,” and insurance companies have begun to crack down on claims, often denying any claim with little evidence. Witnesses aren’t much help, either; Russian courts have turned into a he-said-she-said mess when it comes to traffic accidents. “Dash-cam footage is the only real way to substantiate your claims in the court of law,” Galperina writes.

The camera records non-stop until its limited flash storage fills up; then, the drive erases itself and begins recording again. If an accident happens, the footage can be pulled off and used later. The technology is much cheaper—ranging from as little as $50 to as much as $200—than insurance. Because of lax law enforcement and scams on the road, including staged crashes and already damaged cars presented as evidence in a new case, buying a good policy is outrageously expensive. A cheap camera can save thousands, which is why such a large number of Russian drivers have one.

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Big Questions
Who Was Chuck Taylor?
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From Betty Crocker to Tommy Bahama, plenty of popular labels are "named" after fake people. But one product with a bona fide backstory to its moniker is Converse's Chuck Taylor All-Star sneakers. The durable gym shoes are beloved by everyone from jocks to hipsters. But who's the man behind the cursive signature on the trademark circular ankle patch?

As journalist Abraham Aamidor recounted in his 2006 book Chuck Taylor, All Star: The True Story of the Man behind the Most Famous Athletic Shoe in History, Chuck Taylor was a former pro basketball player-turned-Converse salesman whose personal brand and tireless salesmanship were instrumental to the shoes' success.

Charles Hollis Taylor was born on July 24, 1901, and raised in southern Indiana. Basketball—the brand-new sport invented by James Naismith in 1891—was beginning to take the Hoosier State by storm. Taylor joined his high school team, the Columbus High School Bull Dogs, and was named captain.

After graduation, instead of heading off to college, Taylor launched his semi-pro career playing basketball with the Columbus Commercials. He’d go on to play for a handful of other teams across the Midwest, including the the Akron Firestone Non-Skids in Ohio, before finally moving to Chicago in 1922 to work as a sales representative for the Converse Rubber Shoe Co. (The company's name was eventually shortened to Converse, Inc.)

Founded in Malden, Massachusetts, in 1908 as a rubber shoe manufacturer, Converse first began producing canvas shoes in 1915, since there wasn't a year-round market for galoshes. They introduced their All-Star canvas sports shoes two years later, in 1917. It’s unclear whether Chuck was initially recruited to also play ball for Converse (by 1926, the brand was sponsoring a traveling team) or if he was simply employed to work in sales. However, we do know that he quickly proved himself to be indispensable to the company.

Taylor listened carefully to customer feedback, and passed on suggestions for shoe improvements—including more padding under the ball of the foot, a different rubber compound in the sole to avoid scuffs, and a patch to protect the ankle—to his regional office. He also relied on his basketball skills to impress prospective clients, hosting free Chuck Taylor basketball clinics around the country to teach high school and college players his signature moves on the court.

In addition to his myriad other job duties, Taylor played for and managed the All-Stars, a traveling team sponsored by Converse to promote their new All Star shoes, and launched and helped publish the Converse Basketball Yearbook, which covered the game of basketball on an annual basis.

After leaving the All-Stars, Taylor continued to publicize his shoe—and own personal brand—by hobnobbing with customers at small-town sporting goods stores and making “special appearances” at local basketball games. There, he’d be included in the starting lineup of a local team during a pivotal game.

Taylor’s star grew so bright that in 1932, Converse added his signature to the ankle patch of the All Star shoes. From that point on, they were known as Chuck Taylor All-Stars. Still, Taylor—who reportedly took shameless advantage of his expense account and earned a good salary—is believed to have never received royalties for the use of his name.

In 1969, Taylor was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. The same year, he died from a heart attack on June 23, at the age of 67. Around this time, athletic shoes manufactured by companies like Adidas and Nike began replacing Converse on the court, and soon both Taylor and his namesake kicks were beloved by a different sort of customer.

Still, even though Taylor's star has faded over the decades, fans of his shoe continue to carry on his legacy: Today, Converse sells more than 270,000 pairs of Chuck Taylors a day, 365 days a year, to retro-loving customers who can't get enough of the athlete's looping cursive signature.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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Big Questions
What Is the Difference Between Generic and Name Brand Ibuprofen?
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What is the difference between generic ibuprofen vs. name brands?

Yali Friedman:

I just published a paper that answers this question: Are Generic Drugs Less Safe than their Branded Equivalents?

Here’s the tl;dr version:

Generic drugs are versions of drugs made by companies other than the company which originally developed the drug.

To gain FDA approval, a generic drug must:

  • Contain the same active ingredients as the innovator drug (inactive ingredients may vary)
  • Be identical in strength, dosage form, and route of administration
  • Have the same use indications
  • Be bioequivalent
  • Meet the same batch requirements for identity, strength, purity, and quality
  • Be manufactured under the same strict standards of FDA's good manufacturing practice regulations required for innovator products

I hope you found this answer useful. Feel free to reach out at www.thinkbiotech.com. For more on generic drugs, you can see our resources and whitepapers at Pharmaceutical strategic guidance and whitepapers

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

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