Scientific Road Traffic Investigation Techniques

Understanding Scientific Road Traffic Investigation Techniques

  • Scientific road traffic investigation techniques are a set of procedures used to objectively evaluate the circumstances of road traffic collisions.
  • This analysis assists investigators in determining the sequence of events leading to the collision, thus helping to establish facts, gathering evidence and eventually draw justified conclusions.

Skid Mark Analysis

  • Skid marks are the rubber tracks left by tyres immediately before a collision occurs.
  • Skid mark analysis allows investigators to estimate crucial data like the initial speed of the vehicle, the distance travelled during the skid, and whether braking was applied before the collision.
  • This kind of analysis relies heavily on understanding the friction between the road and the tyre. It also uses simple physics to calculate the variables mentioned earlier.

Momentum Analysis

  • Another scientific road traffic investigation technique is momentum analysis. This technique is primarily used when collisions involve several vehicles.
  • Momentum analysis employs the principle of conservation of momentum (the total momentum before an event equals the total momentum after the event) to decipher vehicular movement and speed at the time of impact.
  • Collecting data for momentum analysis often includes identifying the final rest positions of the vehicles and measuring the damage caused to each vehicle.

Crush Analysis

  • Crush analysis is another essential tool used to evaluate kinetic energy and impact speed during the collision.
  • It involves the study of vehicle deformation or ‘crush’ due to the collision, which can reveal valuable data about speed and direction of the vehicles involved.
  • Crush analysis typically involves a meticulous examination of the damaged vehicle, measurements of the damage, and use of mathematical or computer models to derive critical information.

Event Data Recorder Analysis

  • Modern vehicle’s Event Data Recorders (EDRs), similar to an aircraft’s black box, can provide enormous amounts of data regarding the car’s various systems leading up to, during, and after a collision.
  • Event Data Recorder (EDR) analysis can provide valuable data like the vehicle speed, throttle position, brake usage, and airbag deployment amongst others.
  • This data significantly helps in validating the data derived from other forensic analysis methods like skid mark, momentum and crush analysis.

Importance of Scientific Techniques in Forensic Collision Investigation

  • By using these scientific techniques, investigators can ascertain the causes of traffic collisions and any contributing factors.
  • The precise understanding offered by these techniques can assist in law enforcement, insurance claims, and can even lead to positive changes in road safety policies.
  • These techniques require accurate data collection and interpretation, highlighting the importance of solid scientific grounding for forensic collision investigators.