The Road Traffic Accident Investigator

in Vehicle

Collision investigators often find themselves instructed in unusual cases.

The collision took place in a busy London street, and involved a left hand drive, rigid large goods vehicle and a pedestrian crossing the road at a zebra crossing from the driver’s right hand side (i.e. across the cab given the driver’s seat position). Unusually, the lady was struck on the left front corner of the truck, meaning that she had crossed the majority of the carriageway before the fatal impact.

In order to get the investigation underway the expert decided to take the following course by investigating: time taken for the woman (a pensioner) to reach the point of impact, the conspicuity of the pedestrian, given that a slower moving object in the peripheral vision is much less obvious, time taken to slow the vehicle at its weight at the time of collision from various speeds, the sight lines from the vehicle across the cab given the driver’s weight (the adjustable, air ride seat found in such trucks sinks when the driver’s weight is applied), any other vehicle defect that may have resulted in it performing below its normal standard, whether the driver was within his tacograph limits, as fatigue is instrumental in the erosion of awareness, and a thorough read of the Police Collision Investigator’s report to establish whether they had considered all the factors.

In this case the investigator actually had to travel to the place where the vehicle was located, which in this case was France.

His vehicle examination concluded that the the driver would have had a better view of the point of impact the further he was from it. Given that microscope analysis of the tacograph identified a speed of not in excess of 23mph, and that the consultant was able to calculate deceleration rates under braking, he was able to piece together what was in view from the point where the pedestrian stepped from the pavement to her impact with the vehicle. In order to explain the complexities of road traffic accident investigation to a jury, the various elements were pieced together in the form of a report, plan, photo album and DVD video footage.

It was concluded that an error on the part of the lorry driver had caused the accident in which the pedestrian died. What had caused the driver to be unaware of the presence of the pedestrian only he will know. From the legal point of view, they were able to advise that he was unlikely to be able to construct a reasonable defence and the insurance company were advised accordingly.

This case study reveals several interesting realities of the collision investigation industry.

If nothing else it shows what a varied and complex role it can be. In our day to day lives we do not concern ourselves with the mechanics of how these kind of investigations work behind the scenes, yet upon examination it proves to be a fascinating world.


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Kai Perry has 17 articles online

This article was written by a road traffic investigator who works closely with Wayman Consultancy. They provide road traffic accident investigation and vehicle examination services for lawyers, transport authorities, insurance companies, and emergency services

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The Road Traffic Accident Investigator

This article was published on 2011/11/10