Forensic Engineers and Consultants

Tag Archive: Human Factors

  1. Civil Twilight Pedestrian Collision: A Case Study

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    Susan, a 45-year-old runner, was jogging in the early morning approximately an hour before sunrise, also known as “civil twilight.” Civil twilight occurs both before sunrise and after sunset when the sun is below the horizon and the sky is partially illuminated. Susan was wearing dark athletic clothing and grey tennis shoes for her morning run. She was running on the sidewalk in a suburban area and began to cross the four-lane road at an unmarked crosswalk. (more…)

  2. Rainy Day Troubles: A Slip and Fall Case Study

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    An afternoon summer rain shower led to an elderly woman’s admittance to the hospital. Mrs. Jones, aged 68, entered a retail store to buy groceries for her visiting family. Mrs. Jones walked through the store’s vestibule toward the entrance where she slipped and fell, sustaining significant injuries. An investigation was conducted to determine the cause of the slip and fall incident.

    The investigation revealed (more…)

  3. The 9-Cell Collision Matrix – The Environment

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    “Was a dark stormy night as the train rattled on…” Anybody? 1985? Scarecrow?  Come on… this was when Cougar was still a Mellencamp! Ok… it was called Grandma’s Theme… you’ll have to look that one up… but as I sat down to write this blog on the environment, that song kept running though my head. If you look it up, it will have a similar effect… just a little warning.

    In our last installment of the 9-Cell Collision Matrix let’s travel down the wet, slippery slope of environmental factors that can contribute to car crashes, and maybe take a closer look at the things around us, at or near our crash scene that may reveal some important clues. (more…)

  4. Surprise Slip and Slides  

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    Falls were the number one cause of preventable non-fatal injuries and the number two cause of preventable deaths in the US in 2019 (CDC and NEISS data). Slip and falls occur when there is an unexpected loss of traction between a person’s foot and the walking surface.  Slip and falls are common and can occur in any setting where people walk, including homes, workplaces, and public areas. Slip and falls can result in serious injuries, particularly for older adults.

    The human gait cycle consists of four phases: (more…)

  5. Playgrounds are not all Fun and Games

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    Play is an essential part of childhood development as children learn through play. Public playgrounds provide an environment for children to develop physical, behavioral, and cognitive skills. Though an essential aspect of childhood development, public play areas can also provide an opportunity for serious injuries and fatalities. In 2020, 120,829 children sustained serious injuries (more…)

  6. What You Don’t See Can Hurt You-Undercarriage Crashes

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    A 43-year-old man driving his small vehicle northbound in the right lane of a rural two-lane paved road, was on his way to his favorite hunting spot in the early morning. He had two passengers with him—one in his front passenger seat and one in his back left seat. It was dark outside, and the weather was clear and dry. Along the rural two-lane road were large wooded private properties with no ambient lighting illuminating the roadway. Further up the road, a log truck began to turn left onto the road. Unable to entirely turn left in one fluid movement, the log truck (more…)

  7. The Difficult Task of Avoiding Pedestrians While Driving at Night

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    An alarming 6,516 pedestrians were killed, and 54,769 pedestrians were injured as a result of traffic crashes in 2020 (NHTSA, 2022). A large majority (77%) of these pedestrian fatalities occurred in low luminance conditions such as nighttime while only 20% occurred in daylight (NHTSA, 2022). This dramatic difference between pedestrian fatalities during the night and day is seen even when controlling for driver fatigue and alcohol consumption (Owens & Sivak, 1996). This phenomenon prompts the question as what is so dangerous about being a pedestrian at night? (more…)

  8. The Big Difference Between Conspicuity and Visibility

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    Visibility aids, such as lighting, reflectors, and fluorescent material, are marketed to vulnerable road users (VRUs) like pedestrians and bicyclists as a way to enhance their safety on the road. These visibility aids increase the VRU’s contrast within the roadway environment therefore increasing their visibility. However, increasing visibility does not necessarily mean enhancing conspicuity. For example, the key difference between a visible pedestrian and a conspicuous pedestrian is that a visible pedestrian is distinguishable from their background whereas a conspicuous pedestrian “grabs” the driver’s visual attention. (more…)

  9. The Collision Reconstruction Matrix – The Human

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    Murder, suicide, deceit, and intrigue… car crashes? You bet! In our next installment of the 9-Cell Collision Matrix let us dive a little deeper into the glue that binds all this together, the human element.

    Photo by Mark Turner

    Let’s begin with the most basic human element at the root cause of car wrecks, our old friend inattention. Inattention… a vast word that encompasses many lackadaisical conditions. The daydreaming 16-year-old in math class, the radio knob turner, the back seat talker, the quarter pounder with cheese eater, and perhaps the most offensive, the cell phone user. All very dangerous behind the wheel, and one very dangerous to your future… as it turns out, you will always need good math skills… ask me how I know? Driving is of course a divided attention endeavor, (more…)

  10. The Best Use of Visibility Aids – Contrast

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    There are various visibility aids marketed for vulnerable road users (VRUs). Here, the term VRU is used to describe unprotected road users such as pedestrians and bicyclists. Visibility aids are designed to increase a VRU’s contrast within their environment, making them more distinguishable from the background to a driver. These visibility aids can include both active and passive ways to increase the VRU’s contrast, therefore their visibility. As the name implies, active visibility aids actively transmit light and are powered by a source (i.e., battery powered bicycle headlights and taillights) while passive visibility aids passively reflect light coming from outside sources (i.e., fluorescent, and retroreflective clothing).

    There are a wide variety of active visibility aids to choose from on the market. For example, (more…)

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