High-Tech Tools Help Make Sense Of Traffic Crashes


Another tool used by reconstructionists is called an Event Data Recorder, which is installed in most cars. It is used in instances when evidence from the crash scene is not readily available.

The force of impact, air bag deployment, seat belt use, steering wheel input, engine speed, vehicle speed, throttle position and braking status are all retrievable through the recorder. Data taken from the vehicle can be used later in the reconstruction process as a checks-and-balances system, Evans said.

“The data collected gives us a snapshot of what was occurring during a crash sequence,” Huibregste said. “It’s another piece of the puzzle used to reconstruct crashes.”

Almost everything investigators do now involves a computer or some other form of technology.

Among the tools used by the Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s Office to reconstruct crash scenes are a total station and a prism, which help investigators get measurements that years ago would have been obtained with a tape measure and mathematical formulas.

“What used to take three hours can now be done in about 15 minutes,” Evans said. “Technology has had an immense impact on our work and the accuracy we are able to provide.”

Investigators measure the roadway, signs, trees, debris, vehicles, lines in the road, tire marks, gouge marks, liquids or anything else they feel may have affected the sequence of events before, during and after an incident.

Investigators are then able to determine vehicle speed and deceleration, roadway friction, braking abilities of a vehicle and both pre- and post-crash travel paths. Officers also test road surfaces using accelerometers and other sensitive instruments.

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Posted by on May 1st, 2013 and filed under Techline. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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