How to View Accident Video from Cameras?

Many intersection accidents are caught on video and unfortunately, most police departments are not equipped to handle inquiries directly from drivers. 

I receive several emails a week from drivers who were involved in accidents at intersections that have red-light cameras and want to view the videotape as evidence.  So how do you obtain the video as evidence and who do I contact?  Unfortunately, the answer is not that simple depending on what city the accident occurred in and we will attempt to clarify this as we learn from other experiences around the US.

Municipalities have different requirements for maintaining and keeping video. They are no current standards and each city uses variations of technology that differ in terms of features and functions to capture and store video. Some cities have set up video systems to record continuously and the resulting video can be recorded locally or it can be streamed to the local Police department. It really all depends on the city and the application of the cameras. If that city uses continuous video we recommend contacting the police department directly for that information. Again, please contact your local police department directly to see if they can assist you to obtain the video. Viewing accident videos from cameras would depend on the specific context and the type of cameras involved. 

Here are a few general steps you can take:

  1. Identify the cameras: Determine the type of cameras involved in capturing the accident. These could include traffic cameras, surveillance cameras from nearby businesses or residences, or dashcams from vehicles involved in the accident.
  2. Contact authorities: If the accident occurred on a public road, contact the appropriate authorities such as the local police department or transportation agency. Provide them with the details of the accident, including the location, date, and time. They may be able to access and provide you with the footage if it is available.
  3. Request footage: If the accident occurred near a business or residential area with surveillance cameras, you can try contacting the owners or managers of those establishments. Ask if they have cameras that may have captured the accident and request access to the footage. Be prepared to provide details about the accident to help them locate the relevant footage.
  4. Dashcam footage: If you or someone involved in the accident had a dashcam installed in a vehicle, review the footage recorded by the dashcam. Retrieve the footage from the dashcam device or memory card and play it on a compatible device such as a computer or a media player.
Remember that access to footage may require proper authorization, and privacy laws and policies may affect the availability and disclosure of video recordings. It is advisable to consult with the appropriate authorities or legal professionals regarding the specific steps to take and the legal requirements involved in accessing and obtaining accident videos from cameras in your jurisdiction.


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