Taking a leaf out of Russia's dash cam playbook

The unfair result of two crash incidents prompted entrepreneur Gareth Poley to produce in-car surveillance systems. Now he's on the quest to make New Zealand roads safer with MotorEyes.

gareth poley motoreyes idealogPHOTO: Simon Wilson

MotorEyes is the unfair result of two crash incidents that prompted entrepreneur Gareth Poley to produce in-car surveillance systems.

Gareth Poley’s moment of entrepreneurial inspiration came after he found himself the middle car in a three-car pile-up. He’d stopped in time, but the force of the car hitting the back of his caused his car to smash into the stationary one in front of him.

His car was written off and Poley had no way to prove that he’d stopped in time – and that the car behind him was in fact at fault.

He was stuck with not only being carless but also having to foot the repair bill for the car in front of him.

“At the time, I looked for ways that could help me in a situation like this,” Poley says. “But there was nothing available then.”

Life went on and a few years later someone drove into his parked car in a hit-and-run incident. With no way of proving who did it, he had to foot another bill for the “hefty” insurance excess.

“It was at this point that I started talking to friends about what we can do to help in situations such as this,” Poley says. “We scoured the internet and interviewed people around the globe and found the technology that we wanted not only for ourselves but to make available for New Zealanders, too.”

Poley, a creative director, entrepreneur and self-confessed technophile, had always had a keen interest in cutting-edge technology and its ability to solve everyday problems.

motoreyes gareth poley idealog​Along with three others, he founded MotorEyes, an in-car drive recorder that’s now helped him capture several near-misses.

The business, built on in-vehicle camera technology, aims to help encourage safer driving by recording video and audio footage, and also speed and location in some models.

It’s also useful for worried parents wanting to make sure their newly licensed teenager plays by the rules.

Poley points to research that shows car crashes are the single leading cause of death for teenagers aged 15-19 in New Zealand and that traveling too fast for road conditions was the most common contributing factor.

“We believe having a MotorEyes device installed has made us safer on the road. Knowing that a digital record of your journey exists helps focus attention on personal driving standards and discourages reckless or haphazard driving. The same thinking should apply for teens, too.

“In fact, there is significant evidence from overseas that in-vehicle cameras encourage safer driving, so much so that insurance  companies overseas are offering discounted premiums to young drivers if they have the technology installed.

“And having such technology installed in teens’ cars will give parents the ability to review footage and discuss driving behaviours in need of correction with their kids.”

motoreyes gareth poley idealog

Poley runs a YouTube channel where he loads incidents that have been recorded. One shows a child nearly being run over on a pedestrian crossing in Remuera, making for chilling viewing.

“We believe that the more people that have them installed, and the more people become aware of this surveillance, the more chance they will likely be to rethink their decisions to drive poorly.”

And while Poley wants MotorEyes to be financially successful, he’d like to see alongside that New Zealand’s roads becoming safer.

“A major driving force for our business is to be a part of the solution discouraging dangerous driving on New Zealand roads and help to reduce the fatal crash rate as a result.”