The accident reconstruction process is normally used to determine the precise cause of a crash. But how does this process actually work in reality? We will discuss this topic in greater detail for your reference. So, let’s begin.
Vehicle accident reconstruction is a complex process involving a number of scientific approaches to answering several questions as to why and how an accident has occurred.
The process is entirely technical in nature, and hence, the involvement of an expert is crucial.
The reconstruction analysis
The analysis is typically through six investigative stages:
- Data collection from accident scene;
- Hypothesis framing;
- Creating individual models;
- Accident recreation;
- Testing; and
- Simulation software output.
The entire process of reconstruction analysis relies heavily on technology (such as CAD, collision simulators, energy and momentum analysis programs, photogrammetric software, vehicle identity database, etc.) to recreate the entire accident from scratch in a simulated virtual environment.
Some driving factors considered in vehicle accident reconstruction
- Perception and of the driver: This is the time period when the driver realizes the fact that a hazard is up ahead. S/he also realizes that something needs to be done as quickly as possible to avoid the same to the best of his/her abilities. This reaction time is estimated by reconstruction experts for accident reconstruction purposes.Note: The perception-reaction time calculated in this phase of the investigation is usually found to be around 1.2 to 1.5 seconds.
- Braking or steering avoidance: As soon as the driver notices the presence of an obstacle in front of his/her car, it should be natural for him/her to use the braking and the steering system of his/her vehicle to avoid the possible occurrence of an accident to the best of his/her abilities.
In this type of investigation, the reconstruction experts predict how the car’s steering and braking system were used to avoid the collision by the driver in question. If there was any supposed mechanical failure on the braking/steering system of the vehicle, it is explored at this stage of the investigation itself.
On-scene evidence and witness statements
On-scene evidence and witness statements can shed much light on the precise cause of the accident.
The investigators usually take the following items into account from the evidence found at the scene and witness statements:
- Sliding before the crash: In most accident cases, the driver either intentionally or unintentionally overuses the braking system of the vehicle to bring his/her car to a halt before the point of the collision.
This action can result in the locking of the front and the rear wheels causing the vehicle to slide forward a distance before crashing into the obstacle. This sliding distance is taken into account (as a part of on-scene evidence) for further investigations.
- Collision-inflicted damage: The damage inflicted on the vehicle as a result of the crash, and the sliding distance is often taken into consideration for the calculation of the speed of the vehicle before the point of collision.
- After-impact movement: In this type of the investigation, the additional movement of the vehicle after the collision is taken into account for predicting the actual speed of the vehicle before the collision.
So how does a reconstruction expert usually work?
A vehicle accident reconstruction expert usually relies on a combination of mathematics, physics, and vehicle dynamics to create his/her own report on the actual cause of the accident.
- Visits the scene of the accident for the collection of accident-related data, ranging from on-road/off-road skid marks to the final resting place of the vehicle. S/He also can photograph such evidence for further use;
- Examines the vehicle(s) and other entities associated with the accident
- Reviews witness statements and various other accident-related data and
- Perform the entire accident simulation in a virtual environment for the final report.
A final word…
The report of an accident reconstruction expert may be admissible in court and can significantly affect the outcome of a lawsuit, for better or for worse. The accident reconstructionist’s conclusion may very well make or break the case, so you can understand its importance. With that, we’ll bring this article to an end for now. Hope you had a good read.
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