Forensic Engineers and Consultants

Archive: Automotive

Collision Reconstruction – Time Distance

A common car crash is when one vehicle makes a turn or pulls out in front of another vehicle. Normally, without the accident, the vehicles only cross paths for milliseconds. When the collision occurs it’s no doubt because both vehicles try to occupy the same space at the same moment. The question is often “who is at fault?”. Read More

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Why Visit the Collision Scene?

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If you are a collision investigator, a visit to the collision scene is something you want to do. No matter how much time has passed since the crash compared to the review of the case, the information that can be gleaned from walking through the area is valuable. We aren’t always given the option, but it is very beneficial, here is why. Read More

Belted or Unbelted? That is the Question!

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Did the driver or passenger do what they could do to protect themselves by wearing their seatbelt? There are ways to determine if the safetybelt was being used. Most modern vehicles have a computer-controlled safety system that makes decisions based on an algorithm. That algorithm uses information such as change in speed and the direction of force to determine what to do. That data not only tells how fast the vehicle was traveling and if the brakes were applied, but also records the driver’s or passenger’s safetybelt status. Read More

Over the Hill

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When traveling down the roadway, a lot of things must be considered. While things that can be seen are obvious concerns, things that cannot be seen pose a threat too. Blind hillcrests leave drivers guessing “what’s on the other side”. Regardless of their intentions, before drivers make a maneuver, they should pay extra attention to blind hill crests. In a collision that occurs just over a hillcrest, where one driver is attempting to continue straight as the other is attempting to make a left-hand turn, many times the investigating officer arrives at a common conclusion. Failure to yield right of way charges are often applied to the driver making the turn; however, are these charges applicable? Read More

The Pressure to Keep Rolling (Part 2)

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One of the first safety concerns for your vehicle should be your tires. The tires on your vehicle or trailer maintain contact with the roadway and assist you in getting to your destination safely. So how do you know that your tires are proper for your vehicle, are being well-maintained, and beyond the obvious threat of tire failure, why is this important to know? Read More

The Pressure to Keep Rolling – Part 1

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Over my years of law enforcement, crash investigation, and collision reconstruction I have come to become more and more particular about my tires. I have watched people purchase tires from these “used tire stores” and when I buy my tires I can understand why; quality tires are expensive. The question of how old is that tire and how was it serviced before it ended up for sale is a huge concern. Read More

Why investigators should have “Scaled Diagrams” of scenes?

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When it comes to diagramming a crash scene, there are several methods to accomplish the task. Forensic Mapping, (locating, positioning, and documenting the evidence of a collision scene to scale) is essential to having the answers to the questions “Who, What, Where, When, and Why?”. Photographs do a great job showing what the investigators saw post collision; yet they lack scale and the ability to describe pre-collision movement. Having a computer aided diagram (CAD) of the collision scene goes much further than the pictures can; here is why.

basic intersectionA scale diagram gives the full overview of a collision scene from either a 2D or 3D point of view. Being able to see how things lined up, how they came together and how they parted helps explain the events within a crash. When a scene can be viewed from top down or any angle, that helps relay the facts. The investigator, judge, or jury will get Read More

Right Turn Only

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In my 25 years of investigating collisions and traffic related incidents, one thing I have noticed repeatedly is that right turns are considerably better than lefts. I know it is obvious and sometimes seems a little petty; however, when it comes to the safety of your family, it is a big deal. Since I am currently in the process of teaching my second child how to drive, I am harping on vehicle safety a lot and this is one of the many practices I teach. I have instilled in my children (and my wife has picked up on it as well) that they should always plan out their route and, in doing so, make right turns instead of lefts whenever possible. The “Right Turn Only” practice will make your travels safer.

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Are 10 Minutes Worth the Risk?

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Before retiring as a S.C. State Trooper, and to this day, people routinely ask me, “How fast can I go before I get a speeding ticket?” Let me start by saying one mile per hour over the speed limit can subject you to a speeding ticket. While different officers have different standards, it is easier to talk your way into a ticket than to talk your way out of one. So, much like the number of licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop, the world may never know an exact answer to how fast you can go over the posted limit without a citation. A better question is ‘What is the benefit of exceeding the posted limit?’ Read More

Piecing it Together…Traced Evidence

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In the field of forensic investigations of traffic collisions, it can be repeated over and over that little things matter. It’s the details that align the facts to describe the event and answer the questions about the crash. Sometimes those details are simple, and they are often overlooked. The damage sustained by a vehicle involved in an accident tells a reconstructionist a lot. Your collision reconstruction could benefit from mapping the damage profiles of the involved vehicle(s) to assist in answering questions about the incident. Read More

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