Written By Humatec’s Expert Philip Buckley
Vehicle accident reconstruction is the science of determining what happened at a collision scene after the fact.
Even people at the scene can’t see everything that is going on due to their unique focus, their field of vision. The physical factors such as surface changes like oil and glass on the street sometimes cannot be observed by the driver. And direct low angle sun obscures visibility. Drivers are occasionally distracted by food, phone and family, and other things.
Broken vehicle parts, tire blowouts, steering linkage, electronic controls can affect vehicle handling, and other drivers can constitute oncoming or tailing hazards or perception of hazard. And of course the weather, daylight/dark and lighting make big differences in incident determination. Were these factors or incidental?
The Professional Accident Reconstructionist (- yes there is a professional category, name and even an acronym – AR) takes all this and more into account when determining what happened. Police reports, security videos, on scene pictures by anyone, and witness statements, incident markings on the street and other fixed objects, as well as measurements of the vehicles involved are all valuable inputs to the equation. A great deal of measurement, math, and logic and computer evaluation round out the techniques used performing and accident reconstruction.
An Accident Reconstruction will also evaluate the safety aspects of the vehicles involved. Were seat belts used, did the air bags actuate, what about seat belt tensioners? Is a data recording device available? Does downloaded data provide insight into the progress of the incident? Does the vehicle have electronic stability control and other electronic gizmos that are intended to improve protection to occupants? Did they work?
An Accident Reconstruction is a scientific report providing opinion(s) regarding what happened, and identifying the contributing factors. Often testing of devices and reports of similar incidents are involved in achieving a science based evaluation.