The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

What not to do if you’re driving in Russia

Jason Kottke passes along this strangely riveting 13-minute compilation of road accidents and other bizarre traffic mishaps in Russia. There's everything from fender-benders to surreal sheep attacks to a car slowly flipped over by a power line:

As Kottke points out, most of the accidents are, curiously enough, filmed by video cameras on the dashboards of cars. Why are so many people in Russia filming their every moment on the road? Here's one answer:

Dash-cam footage is the only real way to substantiate your claims in the court of law. Forget witnesses. Hit and runs are very common and insurance companies notoriously specialize in denying claims. Two-way insurance coverage is very expensive and almost completely unavailable for vehicles over ten years old-the drivers can only get basic liability. Get into a minor or major accident and expect the other party to lie to the police or better yet, flee after rear-ending you. Since your insurance won't pay unless the offender is found and sued, you'll see dash-cam videos of post hit and run pursuits for plate numbers.

For those who can't get enough of gruesome Russian traffic facts, Keith Gessen wrote a long piece on gridlock in Moscow for the New Yorker back in 2010. It's sadly only available for subscribers, but there's a video discussing the piece here.