How TeslaCam saved me from a hit-and-run

by The Darwinian Doctor

Here’s the story of how the TeslaCam saved me from a hit-and-run.  

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Tesla cars are really polarizing.  People think they’re either Elon Musk’s gift to mankind, or just an expensive form of virtue signaling.  

I’ve written a little about Tesla before, but I’ve mostly stuck to topics like personal finance and real estate on this blog.  This is mainly because for the past couple of years, I’ve struggled with the cognitive dissonance of being both a personal finance writer and also the owner of a Tesla Model 3.  I found that most writers in the financial independence space argue that these two things are incompatible.

My Tesla Model 3, one day old

I’ve mostly gotten over this now.  As a seeker of moFIRE, I’m committed to financial independence without lifestyle sacrifice.  Since buying the Model 3, my commute transformed from stressful torture into a time for deep thoughts, business calls, and podcast consumption.  My Tesla is my office on wheels and meditation space. On the weekends, it’s also our portable napping crib.  

We were taking advantage of this last purpose a couple of weekends ago when we were the victims of a hit-and-run.

Nap drives

The Dr-ess and I have two boys, currently three and six years old.  Our older son abandoned naps years ago, but our youngest still really benefits from a good nap in the middle of the day.  Without this, he can be a real troll in the evenings.

During the week, he happily naps in his bed under the watchful eye of our au pair. But on the weekends when the Dr-ess and I are in charge, he refuses to nap anywhere except in his car seat.  So around 1PM PST on most weekends, you’ll find the Darwinian family cruising up and down the Pacific Coast Highway.  Our youngest son snoozes while his brother chats with us or watches something on the iPad.

We’re that car by the underpass

The hit-and-run

On this fateful day, we were finishing up our nap drive on a rare rainy day in SoCal.  We were actually on our way to get some grass seed at Lowe’s.

We pulled to a full stop in an intersection while a tan sedan pulled onto the road into the right lane besides us.   All of a sudden, a blue Acura split the lane in between my car and the sedan.  There wasn’t enough space for the blue car, so it crunched and rocked both of our cars as it scraped by.  

The blue Acura stopped for a split second at the corner, before turning and taking off down the cross street.  

After I recovered from my shock and confirmed that we weren’t injured, I drove after the culprit to at least get the license plate. Unfortunately, the car was nowhere to be found.  

Shaken, I drove back to the scene of the crime and reported the hit-and-run to the police.

While I was waiting, I made a startling discovery:  my Tesla camera system (TeslaCam) had captured the hit-and-run footage! 

Here’s the video footage of the crash from my right rear camera:

Quick detective work

Once the police arrived, I described the accident and showed them the damage. Luckily, the damage seemed confined to the rear passenger side of my car.

The policemen seemed a bit skeptical of my story until I showed them the TeslaCam footage of the hit-and-run.

With the video, they were able to see the license plates of both the blue Acura and the tan sedan. They created a case and promised to track down the owner of the blue Acura.

They asked if I wanted to press charges, and I decided against it. No one seemed hurt, and the damage was thankfully minor to my car. We figured that the driver was probably young and just panicked in the heat of the moment.

We drove off, and literally fifteen minutes later we got a call from the police with the name and insurance information of the driver of the blue sedan. He was indeed a young driver. Incidentally, I found his Biggerpockets profile — he’s interested in real estate investing!

Driving an ICE car again

We got home and I filed a claim with the information the police obtained. A couple of days later, I dropped off my Model 3 at the body shop and picked up a rental car, a Ford Edge SUV.

I’ve been driving it around for the past week or so, and… it’s awful.

The car itself isn’t bad at all. It’s packed with technology, spacious, and handles pretty well for an SUV. My kids love how much leg room they have compared to my cramped Model 3. But it made me realize how spoiled I am with the Tesla.

I use the Tesla’s Autopilot feature almost exclusively when I’m on the highway, which offloads the need to micromanage the accelerator and brake pedals. It also steers for me, which gives me more brainpower to devote to thinking big thoughts.

Finally, I lost the right to use the clean air vehicle sticker, so I can’t zip by the morning and afternoon traffic in the HOV lane.

Without my Tesla, the SoCal traffic is once again a horrible experience.


So there you go. That’s the story of how TeslaCam saved me from a hit-and-run. Without the footage, I would have had to file a claim with my own insurance company. I’m still painfully enduring manually driving the rental car in SoCal traffic, but I should get my Tesla back soon. I can’t wait.


Have you ever been the victim of a hit-and-run? What happened? Comment and subscribe below!

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3 years ago


I’m glad no one got hurt in the crash. I’ve never been in a Tesla so I’m curious where the lens is for the dash cam. It looks like you captured the video from the passenger side mirror. Is a dash cam a standard feature on all Teslas? Maybe I should join the modern age of driving in 2021.

Carpe Diem MD
3 years ago


You handled a rough situation well and I’m glad that no one got hurt. The video from your TESLAcam is impressive…. I can’t believe that the Acura tried to pull that move. Probably a little too much Fast and Furious. I am with you in the TESLA club and do not regret that “investment”. It has truly improved my commute and has been worth the investment. Maybe it is a Cali commuting problem.

Impersonal Finances
3 years ago

Wow that guy had to be texting or something, it wasn’t like you braked really suddenly. Great detective work and way to make me want a Tesla!

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