Global January 25, 2019 Last updated January 22nd, 2019 465 Reads share

Why Do We Need an Expert for Traffic Accident Reconstruction?

Image Credit: Depositphotos

The main objective of traffic accident reconstruction is to analyze, investigate and come to a final conclusion on causes and events in a collision between a specific vehicle with another vehicle or a pedestrian or any other object.

A traffic accident outcome usually depends completely on accident reconstruction professional’s testimony. So an expert is always needed to analyze the outcomes effectively. This article will discuss the accident reconstruction process in greater detail. The answer to the question will then follow.

Vehicle Accident Reconstruction Analysis

The vehicle accident reconstruction analysis usually includes 6 things such as:

  • Collection of data,
  • Evaluating hypotheses,
  • Creating models,
  • Recreating accidents,
  • Testing,
  • Utilizing simulation-based software.

With the implementation of technology, accident reconstruction’s been revolutionized by the use of inexpensive, powerful computers along with specialty software. Some example software used for accident reconstruction analysis purposes are:

  • The CAD (Computer Aided Design) [It’s the use of computer systems for the creation, analysis, modification, and optimization of a design],
  • Momentum & energy analysis programs,
  • Vehicle specification database,
  • Collision simulators,
  • Photogrammetry (it’s the science of taking a measurement from photographs) based software.

The presentation

After the completion of the analysis, the traffic accident reconstruction professionals compile the findings, diagrams, animations etc. to frame the conclusion related to the accident.

The presentation’s usually depicted in the form of a video in simple lucid language so that non-technical parties can understand the possible reasons behind the accident easily and effectively. The reconstruction professional must have a sound knowledge of physics, dynamics, and engineering to come to a sound conclusion.

The Technology

Modern vehicles nowadays come with onboard “Event Data Recorders (EDR) and Crash Data Recorders (CDR).” These tools can provide us with crash data directly from any vehicle compatible with these tools. Some of these data parameters include key information like:

  • The speed of the vehicle,
  • Status of the break,
  • Ignition cycles,
  • Throttle position.
  • Status of the seat belt,
  • Ignition cycles and so on.

What are the factors taken into consideration for accident reconstruction purposes?

Several factors of the driver(s) are taken into account for making the report. These are mainly:

  • Perception-reaction: This one’s the phase where the driver perceives a specific hazard in front of him/her. The reaction time is estimated. It’s typically between 1.1 to 1.5 seconds.
  • Braking/Steering avoidance: This is the phase where the driver will typically use some sort of a braking/steering attempt to avoid the collision to the best of his/her ability. Evidence from the accident scene along with proper statements from eyewitnesses throws much light on this matter.
  • Pre-collision sliding: In many cases, the driver may unintentionally overuse the braking system of the vehicle. This results in locking the rear and the front wheels respectively. In such cases, the vehicle usually slides forward a fair few feet before crashing into the obstacle.
  • Collision: Damage caused by the collision is taken into account and combined with that of the sliding distance to estimate the speed of the vehicle before the collision.
  • Post-impact movement: This is the additional movement occurring after the collision bringing the body to rest. Such an analysis also helps in determining the speed of the vehicle associated with the accident.

What does an accident reconstruction expert usually do for traffic accident reconstruction?

An accident reconstruction expert relies strongly on the application of mathematics, physics and vehicle dynamics and also take the environmental and human factors into account.

A TEG expert may:

  • Visit the scene of the accident to assess the skid-marks on the road, the final rest position of the vehicle after a collision, various debris and various other physical evidence and take the necessary photographs and measurements.
  • Examine the vehicle for damage assessment (including paint damages, the blood of the victims, glass and fiber damages etc.).
  • Review sketch plans, statements of witnesses, prior reports and other related data.
  • Perform simulations and take into account the factors that probably resulted in the accident.

What does the final traffic accident reconstruction report contain?

The final report can be used in court as a part of the evidence. The report may contain any or all of the following information:

  • Timeline as well as the sequence of the traffic events,
  • Orientations, locations, trajectories as well as speeds of pedestrians and vehicles,
  • Impact point,
  • The line of sight (more specifically, we should say blind spots),
  • Human factors,
  • Vehicle dynamics,
  • Evasive maneuvers,
  • Collision avoidability.

The analyses, as well as interpretations mentioned in the report, are usually supported by thorough scientific research.

So why is there a need of an expert for accident reconstruction purposes?

Traffic accidents usually occur due to improper interactions between three noticeable components such as:

  • The driver,
  • The road,
  • The vehicle.

A number of alternative scenarios can arise due to the existence of multiple factors arising from the components (the driver, road and the vehicle) as well as from circumstances related to the accident. An accident might look pretty straightforward from the hindsight but on the other hand, it might also have some sort of a hidden twist in the tale. The presence of any critical factor in a traffic accident alters the entire interpretation of the investigation. And these critical factors aren’t that easy to detect. An experienced professional’s hence necessary for this job.

So it can undoubtedly be said that the accident reconstruction task is a complex and responsible job indeed. It’s definitely not the task of a layman and an expert is always needed who can consider the complex factors involved in the accident and detect a subtle pattern out of the same. Along with that, one must consider the technical aspects associated with the job. Vehicle dynamics is pretty mathematical; any careless mistake, wrong reasoning, misapplication of formulae might lead to an erroneous inference.

Hence, an expert and professional accident investigator are always required for traffic accident reconstruction purposes.

With that, we are going to sign off for the time being. Hope you had a good read.

Legal concept stock image

Katie Smith

Katie Smith

Katie Smith is a fire expert and her areas of interests and expertise include forensic science and accident or crime scene investigation related matters. She is associated with Auto Fire & Safety Consultant and often conducts fire investigation in Houston. Blogging is her hobby and she is also a consultant blogger, having well-accepted write-ups on a wide range of topics, such as general safety, security and safety equipment.

Read Full Bio