Israeli app seeks to create video trail to nail reckless drivers

Jerusalem-based Comroads sets up a pilot app to create social network for drivers to share ‘vital video evidence’ of car accidents

Illustrative image of a car accident (Mark_KA; iStock by Getty Images)
Illustrative image of a car accident (Mark_KA; iStock by Getty Images)

When Roy Golombick, co-founder and CEO of Comroads, found two doors of his car severely damaged two years ago after he had left it for just 20 minutes in the parking lot of the mall near his home, he decided to take action. His anger and frustration, which at times grip drivers all around the planet, turned into the idea of creating “a community of drivers, for drivers.”

Last week, Comroads officially announced its app — a pilot project for now — which aims to create “the world’s first social network” that will enable drivers to share “vital video evidence” of car accidents and incidents that would otherwise go undocumented.

Indeed, for drivers involved in car accidents, accountability is often difficult to prove. And even when guilt is clear, culprits often get away, by quickly leaving the scene. Also, cars get frequently dented while parked, with no owners in the vicinity.

To add injury to insult, often when no or only partial video evidence of an accident is available, insurance companies tend not to cover the entire loss of the settlement, unless drivers can  prove they were not a party to the incident. In those cases, drivers of the damaged vehicle are often required to pay part of the damages, resulting in increased premiums going forward, or losing their no-claim bonuses. Golombick himself said he was forced to pay up to NIS 20,000 for replacing both doors.

Comroads was set up as a platform on which third party observers can share their dash cam videos — footage recorded by cameras mounted on their dashboards — in order to help other drivers by providing material evidence for their claims of innocence in accidents.

Comroads says its app for Android phones is simple to install and use: users just pair their phones with their WiFi-enabled dash cams. The app will automatically detect when a car is in motion. While in driving mode, the app maps the driver’s route and matches it with the dash cam footage, and enables the sharing of materials if needed.

If other Comroads users are involved in an accident, they will be able to press the accident point on the map of their route in the Comroads app. The app locats nearby drivers who may have relevant footage, enabling users to request video images from their dash cams to help them in their case.

The videos that are shared are completely anonymous, the company says on its website, and Comroads does not share this information with law enforcement or government authorities to protect driver privacy.

Co-founder and CEO of Comroads, Roy Golombick (Courtesy)

Why would someone be willing to share their information? Because drivers tend to be “good natured,” Golombick  said. And they also know that they could be in a similar situation one day, so it is useful to have a community of drivers helping each other.

Indeed, Golombick said, when people heard about his initiative, they started sending videos and getting involved.

Golombick set up Comroads at the end of 2017, and the startup has raised $800,000 to date in seed funding from investors including incubator VLX Ventures and private investors InsurtechIL.

With four employees, including co-founders Golombick and Zeev Gross, Comroads is seeking to first address the Israeli and the UK market. Eventually the firm plans to widen its activities to the US and Australia, and is looking to raise added funds to help expand operations.

Meanwhile, Comroads is available for free in the Google Play Store, with the aim of getting “as many users as possible,” Golombick said. The firm is also promoting its platform on social media, to make the public more aware of its solution, as the problem it addresses affects drivers not only in Israel, but also around the world, he said.

Comroads is also trying to work more closely with dash cam manufacturers, Golombick said.

Eventually, he added, if Comroads makes drivers aware that “they can’t get away with it, they’ll become better drivers,” increasing safety on the road as a whole.

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