Archived Webinars

All archived webinars are merely for educational and viewing purposes ONLY. NO CLE CREDIT will be given for watching the archived webinar.

Advanced Technologies in Accident Reconstruction and Investigations

TASA ID: 399

On January 14, 2016 at 2:00 p.m. (ET), The TASA Group, in conjunction with traffic accident reconstruction expert Frank Costanzo, presented a free, one-hour interactive webinar presentation, New Advanced Technology in the Areas of Accident Reconstruction and Investigations, for all legal professionals. During this presentation, Mr. Costanzo discussed:

  • The direction of technology
  • 2D scene diagramming
  • 3D laser scanning of a scene
  • Different types of animation
  • CDR, SDM and EDR downloads

About The Presenter:

Frank Costanzo is a traffic accident reconstruction specialist that has worked on over 1,900 full-scale collision investigations and reconstructions. He is a certified court expert with more than 30 years of experience in collision investigations and reconstructions, scene documentation/diagramming, 3D laser scanning, truck and vehicle computer downloads, and forensic vehicle inspections.

Video Transcription:

Emily: Good afternoon and welcome today's presentation, New Advanced Technology in Areas of Accident Reconstruction and Investigations. In today's webinar, Mr. Constanzo will discuss the direction of technology, 2D scene diagramming, 3D laser scanning of a scene, different types of animation, CDR, SDM and EDR downloads.

To give you a little background about our presenter, Frank Constanzo, he's a Traffic Accident Reconstruction Specialists that has worked on over 1,900 full-scale collision investigations and reconstructions. He's a certified court expert with more than 30 years of experience in collision investigations and reconstructions, scene documentation and diagramming, 3D laser scanning, truck, and vehicle computer downloads, and forensic vehicle inspections.

Attendees require a passcode. The word for today is crash. During the Q&A session, we will ask that you enter this passcode into the Q&A widget for CLE reporting purposes. The Q&A is located to the left of your screen. Please remember that if you are applying for CLE credit, you must logon to your computer as yourself, and stay for the full 60 minutes. You are also required to complete the survey at the end of the program.

Tomorrow morning, we will send out an email with the link to the archive recording of the webinar. The slides can be downloaded from the resource list to the left of your screen. We'll also be using video today. If you are unable to see any video, they're available to download from the resource list. Thank you all for attending today, and Frank, the presentation is now turned over to you.

Frank: Okay, thanks, for everybody attending the CLE. This is a CLE program that I've been presenting in my area, in the Philadelphia area for probably a couple years now. Glad we can broadcast it over this medium. And any questions, hold it for the questions section, and let's get started.

This is just a brief description of what I see. I mean, I've been doing it a long time, and I've seen quite a change in what I do. And what we're going to talk about is technology probably about five years ago was in a 2D format, which means pictures and diagrams. And now everything's kind of going to a 3D type of state-of-art, not everything but a lot of things.

We're going to talk about high definition surveying of vehicle and scenes. We're also going to talk about animation, I'm going to give you an idea of where, downloads, lawyers usually refer to them as black boxes but, give you an idea where downloads are. And you know, if you have any other... I'll talk about things related to this such as Qualcomms and in-view videos of tractor-trailers. Okay, let's get started.

I'm old enough to know... I'm not that old, but I put this up because I'm old enough to know what the left side is, and I'm old enough to know that when the first cell phones came out that they kind of looked like that too. Present generations like my son and my daughter had no idea, they saw one of the things on the left and stared at it, and wondered how we ever got by, by actually answering a phone on the wall. But it's come a long way, and that really was not that long ago.

But well, let's get started. We're going to talk about scene diagram, 2D scene diagramming, 2D vehicle documentation, 3D scene and vehicle laser scanning, 3D animations, we're going to talk about truck downloads and car downloads. And maybe we'll even branch off to some other subjects that we can think about.

You know, the easiest way to present this stuff is case studies, and all these case studies have been closed, so I feel comfortable presenting it. But this was a multi-vehicle fatal down in the South Jersey area where a person came upon a work crew, and the individual was drunk and struck the rear of a car, part of the work crew, and wound up having a fatality as the event. And this is a 2D scene diagram and I can show you when... I was not the police, I was defending the individual in the case. But when I got to the scene, it's not uncommon now, you'll see these types of markings in our area. Every marking has a piece of evidence associated with it in the 2D scene diagram.

So when we got out there we could do basically the same thing the police do, use total station, you'll hear that kind of through your experts that use, and start documenting what they have. Some questions are, you know, how long do paint marks, like these types of paint marks remain on the road? It depends on the type of road it is, the weather, and how highly traveled. But you know, in general, I think you can get a three month period to see these types of marks.

So when we went out to the scene to document stuff, this is the raw format and there were 170 markings on the roadway that the police marked for this fatal accident. They did the same thing and after the 2D diagram, we take the laser scanner and it's just the surveying equipment. Same type of surveying equipment you see used on roads now where one person is using the surveying equipment the other, we call them the pole boy walks around to the measurement sites.

So what we can do is we take these types of points, we import them into drafting programs, scene diagram programs, and we're actually able to draw the scale, a scene diagram with physical evidence. And this is fine, this has been done years. I used to work for the federal government and this type of total station has probably been around at least 20 years if not more. Very effective, we can take this diagram and enlarge the diagram. But just so you know is when something is enlarged it loses the scale format.

So once we import this type of data into a diagram program, everything is scalable. So if you say, "Hey Frank, how long is that skid mark?" we're able to tell you any kind of measurement you want about the diagram and driveway width, lane width. But the interesting thing that's coming about right now is 3D laser scanning. What I showed you before, very common, used all the time, it's fine, this is a 3D laser scan of a courthouse area where I was doing a case where a pedestrian was struck. This is a picture, this is not a scan, this is a picture from an adjacent garage. You can see the pedestrian crosswalk, you can see the cars.

This is a photograph of street level, and you can see it's well-marked with all the necessary signs for the pedestrian crossing. Photographs are fine too, people...one of the questions once you find this is, "Why do I need the laser scan? I like pictures better and I think I would be able to..." When we laser scan, when we do 2D or 3D, we also take pictures for you. So you'll also have the pictures associated with any kind of fieldwork.

This is a 3D laser scan, like I told you, was a courthouse building. This is a 3D laser scan of the courthouse. You can see... I don't know if they can see my arrow. But you can see down below where the entrance was, the crosswalk going to the entrance. The reason why 3D laser scanning is of need to some people is it's completely scalable. That is the neat thing about it. Every scan... We were talking about data points when we did 170 data points more with the roadway design, but the last diagram I showed you probably had 300 points in which we measured with scanning equipment.

When we scan with the 3D laser, it takes a million data points with every scan. And it produces, once we clean it up, put it through the right software, get it to look the way we want it to look, it gets this type of scalable format. And what I mean scalable format is if you had a question regarding anything in this picture, if you wanted to know the pillar heights, if you wanted to know the window heights, if you wanted to know, for instance, there was an eyewitness in the third floor looking down at the pedestrian crosswalk, if you wanted to know that measurement. Everything is imported into programs and it's completely scalable so I can tell you any measurement you want regarding the scan.

And that's why people like to scan because, you know, I get this comment, like, they never really know what is important till maybe later in the case and they would like the laser scans. This is the laser scan of the roadway, and the interesting part about, since it's a 3D laser scan, this scan was not taken on the rooftop of a building. This laser was taken on street level. So once we do the scan on street level, we're able to elevate views to be able to get top-down views. And my experience, I've been in court many, many times, people like to look down on roadways, on vehicles, they like the top-down view.

So when we scan, we're able to basically give you this type of view. And one attorney, like I told you, I've done it many times, says, "Well I don't really feel a need for laser scanning because of Google Earth." And Google Earth can give you this type of view, but Google Earth doesn't give you 100% views of everything. In fact, Google Earth, you know, I use it quite often, if there are trees in the way, you can't get clear views, and Google Earth's types of views won't be able to give you scalable views like this.

And the thing about the laser scans are once it's cleaned up...and when I say the word cleaned up what I mean by... This is a kind of heavily driven roadway. Well, we did the scan and to give you a clean view, we throw it through a software program and we take out vehicles and any kind of views that would be obstructing to give you this. You may look at it and go, "Boy, no one uses this road at all." Well, the scan was cleaned up, and the vehicles were taken out of it.

This is a scan of the parking garage which the individual is walking to, and if we were able to enlarge this, I made measurements of all these types of white marks you see here. Like I did the measurements of the doors, anything that's in this scan, if you asked a question, is very accurately been able to demonstrate measurements of it. And it's a pretty good quality. I mean, it's not quite the quality as a picture and I agree, but as far as a 3D laser scan, we can get qualities that are pretty close to photographs.

3D laser scanning isn’t just used...one of the attorneys came up to me and said, "Geez, I didn't even know it could be used for this," but they can be used really for anything. This was a tank farm up in the Pittsburgh area that was laser scanned, and the reason why the tank farm was, you know, laser scanned is to get the dimensions. And what I mean by that is if you had, unfortunately, this did not happen. But if you had a worker fall from the top of the tanker to the bottom, and someone wanted to know how far that was that the person fell, since it's a scalable type of scan, we'll be able to give you the dimensions without going up to the top of the tank or anything that's dangerous.

People use it for trip and fall, sidewalk cracks. Anything you really have to completely document. People use it for machines. We scan machines. If you have a question, product liability where, you know, a piece of lumber came off a machine and you want to permanently be able to measure that thing and have it scalable, 3D laser scans are used for that too.

I'm going to give you an example of a case where we laser scanned. And this is a photograph. This happened, little background story, it's settled so it's not an issue. But a person was coming down. Motorcycle was coming in this direction. He came around the curve which is at the top of the photograph, lost control and slid and hit a pole and was severely hurt. This is just a picture of the roadway. This is not the laser scan. This is the picture of the roadway. And you can see the curve warning signs up ahead, and you'll see the curve.

We went out and we laser scanned it because we thought in the future, there's going to be a need to maybe animate this type of case. And when you 3D laser scan something, you speed up the animation process. This is the travel path of the motorcycle, he comes around the curve and he loses control.

This is the 2D diagram that the police prepared for the accident reconstruction. Like I told you, total stations is not an unknown way of documenting scenes. In my area, I'd say probably at least 80% of police have the ability to do total stations. The reason why that's of interest is if needed, a plaintiff hires me, we go two years out and the roadway is completely changed, or the evidence isn't available. What we'll do is, through a request, we'll ask for the police electronic file. And once we get to electronic file, we can import it into a diagram program, and actually produce everything the police have measured and be able to measure it up.

With just, you know, police will want to give you this type of information just a page. We don't really want that, it's of interest, but we want to be able to answer measurements. If he puts a skid mark in there and he doesn't have the measurement, we want to be able to get to the electronic file, to be able to answer if you say, "Well, what's the pre-impact skid of the motorcycle? Well, we need to know the skid distance." So just remember when you're applying for discovery, and you see some kind of total station data that's done by the police, you should request a copy of the electronic file. And your expert, whether me or someone else, can walk you through what kind of files you would be wanting to look for. But that's the 2D.

And, you know, I'll give you... I do a lot of teaching and I tell people I want to give you the pros and cons of things so you can pick out really what you like and what you can select over the future. This is the aero-view of the roadway, and honestly, I don't think it's that impressive, it's useful and I'll show you why it's useful. But this is the cleaned up aerial view of the roadway from the scan. This is the animation that was produced and this is one of the ones I don't like, but you'll see the motorcycle is going to come into view later on the scene. And it's very small and it's black, and you'll see it coming up.

You know, it's very, kind of slight, you'll see it lose control. We based the animation off the physical evidence that was recorded, the spinning of the motorcycle. Now, you know, when this case came about it, was settled before we really got to complete everything. But, you know, if it was a tractor-trailer or a car, it would be more visual. But since it's a motorcycle and you're doing an aerial view of a motorcycle, and since it's to scale, it's going to look like that. And the comment was, "Well, can't we make it any better?" And the answer is no, because it's scalable and it's going to look that small, the motorcycle.

This is the 3D laser scan of the same picture I showed you about two slides ago. This was the 3D laser scan of the roadway. This is the travel path of the motorcycle coming down the roadway. It's not a bad view. It can be cleaned up. This is about as good as it's going to get cleaned up. Sometimes when you deal with experts, they'll send you 3D laser scans that look orange, especially vehicles. That's because the laser doesn't like certain colors, and when it doesn't like certain colors, you'll see open spots, and you'll start getting laser scans from experts that look orange and not clear. It's because, especially with vehicles, it doesn't like metallic colors.

So you'll start to get, kind of, different qualities for colors. But this is the scan of the roadway. This is the animation of the motorcycle... Well, I guess I got to go to the next page. I'll be showing you the animation of the motorcycle, and the motorcycle is going to be coming towards us in the photograph. And it settled before I actually... So this is going to be the headless motorcycle operator coming around, but you can see the motorcycle, the driver is not on the motorcycle here because we didn't finish the animation.

But this type of view is a lot better if we're going to present court-wise, if it ever got to that point. This level view, since the motorcycle is so small, we're able to show this type of picture and give a better story when we're in court. Or for arbitrations or anything you really want. Here's another animation I'll show you coming up.

Coming somewhere around here, here he comes. The thing about the 3D animations that are done is these are... I showed you three different: I showed you the aerial, I showed you the approach, and I showed you this, kind of, looking forward. These are not all individual animations that have to be done for you, it's just one animation. And since it's a 3D format, you can tell me, when this is done, what views you want. And then we pick out the views of the animation format and you can show anyone you want.

Honestly, my conversations with attorneys, sometimes they think certain videos are more impactful than others and they want a certain way. Animation companies, whether me or someone you want to hire, certainly would be able to work with you to show you different views. This is the same animation. Let's go.

I'm going to show you some other different animations with higher-end software. Let's...this one. Yeah, this is a tractor-trailer that I saw, this is not my animation, I saw it one time, actually on the Web, that I liked, and I wanted to show it to you. This is using higher-end software. This is a tractor-trailer...well, a heavy-duty vehicle... Comes.

Whenever you do an animation, you have to base the animation on physical evidence that's available to you in the case. This doesn't look like it's playing very quickly. The reason why I say that is, and I'll show you later, is an animation is basically a story, and if the story isn't factual in nature, you may get the type of judge who determines that it's prejudicial because it's not based on any kind of information that's available.

So we want to be able... People contact me about moving forward with an animation when the speed is not really that specific, it's not determined correctly. And I pause them because, I have to tell you, it's really not good business for myself that if I walk someone or talk someone into an animation and we walk into court and a judge eliminates a $10,000 animation, the first person they're going to be looking at is me, because they're going to think that I was responsible for talking him into the animation.

So I want to make sure that, in a case that you have, that it is animation quality quantified, or it's going to hold up through the whole area of the trial, or arbitrations, mediations. This is a pedestrian one that was done a long time ago, but I like this too. You'll see the vehicle, and you see below 70 miles an hour, we know that through testimony. And you can see it was a child running across the roadway, very good quality. It's a little choppy because I think it's just the webinar type of software. But you can see the child coming across, and he gets hit.

This is a driver's view from the car. A lot of people like driver's view. I have to tell you that when we... It seems like that is the one that's mostly requested. I wanted to show you this one, the scan of a roadway. This was up in the Pittsburgh area. I do work up in the Pittsburgh area. I just put this together for you. This was an intersection. This is a photograph of the roadway. This is the scan of the roadway. And the reason why I like scans too is, since it's 3D, it shows you elevations, it shows you the dips and the valleys. And when you have this type of information and you scan a roadway, and you're taking a deposition and someone says to you...you say, "You know, I was at the valley when I saw the car pull up." Well, knowing that information, we can tell you the distance.

I've had people call me, take a break from a deposition and call me and say, "How far is it?" You know, we can quickly give you that type of information. So, you know, for a deposition or maybe even have it before you go. But this is a cleaned up scan of the roadway. This is a 3D laser scan of the roadway. This is a case where the trash truck pulled out.

This is just a quick animation I put together, trash truck hits a person, rolls a vehicle, the other vehicle goes on the roadway, goes over the side of roadway, just a quick animation. The reason why I'd like to show you this and kind of stay on this is, you look at this and...Remember I told you animations have to be based on evidence, and, you know, not just testimony. Well this type of collision, it never happened. I just took a case that I scanned and I threw a trash truck and some cars in there and actually did a quick animation for you. But this never really happened.

So you can see that animations in themselves, if they're going to be held up, you better be sure that you have the right type of information for it. It's just a story. Any questions about the 2D and the 3D so far before we get on the other subjects?

Emily: Okay, and could all the attendees please type the passcode that was given at the beginning of the presentation? The first question is what is involved in cleaning up the scans and making it just the way you want it? How easy is that to abuse?

Frank: Well, first there are two steps actually going into that. Well, the first step is every time we scan, we have to see throw it through a software program called Seenit, it's called. And what we do is we merge all the scans. If we take six scans of the roadway, we use a piece of software to actually merge all the scans together to look together. And then it has to go through another piece of software to be able to clean it up and take out all the stuff. It's time-consuming and, you know, for instance, that cleanup of the courthouse I showed you, we probably spent a day cleaning it up, taking out all the cars.

So if you have a highly traveled road, like, for instance, I say someone scanning... I live off his route 100 in my area, and I saw an engineering firm out with the same type of scanner I use, a FARO, and I thought it was interesting. But it's just total heavy traffic, and I don't know what kind of information they thought they were going to get from that, because every time you scan, the scan's going to have a vehicle on the road and not be scanning the information you want. So if the question is, how long does it take you? It really depends on the traffic, and depends on how much quality you want on the scans too.

Emily: Can you repeat what you said about the laser scan not liking certain colors? Is it the laser scan that doesn't pick up colors or is it the animation software that leaves gaps?

Frank: No, it's the scanner. It's 100% the scanner. The scanner, for instance, a metallic blue like a Ford F150 that has a metallic blue, doesn't like that color. We scanned those before and the only way to get a scan...and we know what colors it doesn't like, so we can tell you kind of up front. But the only way to take that kind of...anything that has a reflective surface like a metallic blue, it sounds kind of silly, but the only way we've really been able to get an effective scan of that is to do, well, you actually have to coat it in baby powder. And people just don't want to take that much time to do something like that.

So we're able to know what colors it doesn't like, and if you get scans in, like I said, from other experts and the color is not great, I've seen so many orange scans, it's because the scanner, whether it's a Leica, or FARO or whatever scanner they like, they're kind of, they have the same issues that they don't like certain colors. It's not the software.

Emily: And what is the name of the animation program?

Frank: There are all kinds of animation programs that you can use. It really depends on the degree that you want to... I use a reconstruction program, it also does animations. The higher end... When I work for companies that use higher end programs, they actually, if they have the money they invest in programs that are actually used by, like, Disney and types of... They're hundreds of thousands of dollars. They're very high-end and they're very data... The problem with scans is, it requires a lot of data. So the communications between the lawyer, and the expert, and the animation company...movie files can be sent pretty easily, but the actual physical scan of the information cannot be.

So when we scan, we have to use cloud type of data where they can download the information. And I've learned over a period of time that, I'd say, 50% of the lawyers can handle downloading stuff from the cloud, and 50% can't, it seems confusing. I recommend to anybody that you have an IT guy, not on staff but someone who's willing to come in to help you. But I'll get the names of all the programs that that individual wants to email me. I'll get all the names of the software programs and send them to them.

Emily: And do you reach agreement on what the facts are with opposing counsel before you create animations?

Frank: Yeah, sure. It's not uncommon. It's their product too. I mean, they're paying for the products. So we'll send a video clip of the animation, initially. They'll take a look at it. And it's commonplace for them to say certain things about an animation they like and don't like. So animations are tweaked and improved almost for every animation you do.

Emily: Okay, those are all the questions we have for now. There will be a second Q&A at the end of the presentation. So please continue.

Frank: Okay. Let's see what's in it. Oh, drones. Well, were in the drone area, the era of things, and it's an interesting era. It's kind of governed right now by the federal government. You have to register on that. Since I did this presentation there have been changes too. The idea of drones, very interesting to me because... And I'll show you that not only do we 2D scan and we 3D, there's also a term called photogrammetry. And photogrammetry can do the same thing as a 3D scan, and photogrammetry is safer with a drone. And I'll show you why.

This is an aerial view of a drone. It's 40 feet above street level. And what photogrammetry techniques do is once we take an aerial photograph of the area, and we go on street level and take some identifying marks like roadway widths, maybe an RP to a telephone pole, we take some measurements. We're able to use drones and use them into a photogrammetry program to actually do the same thing as 3D scales. Now before I show you my age, I mean before, the only way to get aerial views is actually, we used to take planes up.

But now with drones, and this was just a little roadway we did, a little residential roadway, we're able to fly a drone. This is flown 140 feet above street level. And in my interest, drones are safer, the 2D diagrams someone has to have a pole, and the scanner is off the roadway, but the pole boy is in the road. So if there's... You know, it's dangerous. It's dangerous for that person being in the road. So if we deal with highways once, hopefully, the government legislates being able to use this for business use. It's actually used in California, I believe, now in some states. The police got okay to use it.

When we deal with major traffic accidents or high roadways like Interstate 80 in this area, or you know, I-95, we're able to use drones to be able to get aerial views, and then we can take measurements. So I'm interested in where this area of drone technology is going to be used. I'm really looking forward to it, to be honest with you, because I think it's... We talked about photographs and when I showed you the 3D scan of the aerial photograph, you looked at it and probably said, "Good but not quite a photo," which is true. But now with the drones, we can do an aerial view with a GoPro, give you an aerial view of a photograph, and also give you the 3D format that sometimes we need for animations.

We're going to go into a different area right now. We've talked about drones. But I want to talk about, we have a little bit of time, to talk about downloads. This is technology that's scanning in downloads. So we're going to talk right now is... I'm going to give you an example of the collision and we're going to talk about what would be available in the old days, and what's available to us now to be able to reconstruct this type of collision.

This is a collision of a vehicle it's coming up on a toll booth in South Jersey. It's on video. It comes and hits the toll booth and bursts into fire. And you can see by the date on the lower thing is 5/10/2007. So back in 2007, we didn't have the technology we have now. So if we needed to answer questions in regards to this collision, in regards to how fast he was going, that's really the question we would want to answer, is we had a 2D format that we're able to do, we still do, still used. And this idea, this 2D format, this was a fatality, a multi-vehicle fatality up near Atlantic City.

That if we took a vehicle and we know how much crush there is to vehicles, we're able to put them into programs like CRASH3 and other programs. And what the program needs to know is how much the vehicle is crushed, how stiff is the vehicle, and how much does it weigh. And when we get that type of information, real general, it's more complicated than that, but that's really the three variables if we're given the vehicle. Then a computer program sees that and says, "Well, this is how much speed is necessary to crush his vehicle."

So if we go back to that vehicle that just crashed into the toll booth, we took that vehicle and took the crush, and took that crush and put it into a computer program, it would tell us how fast that vehicle was going when it hit that pillar. So this is the 2D format, kind of like the 2D scene diagram, but this is a 2D format for a vehicle inspection. But now what we have now is scanning of cars. So we can do a 3D scan of cars. 

Let me back up. This is actually... And I back up. Yeah, this is... You can see these little sticks and these posts right here and these are just made by tape measures. And we know the dimensions of the vehicle because we have the specifications of the vehicle. So this is really done hands-on type by the investigator. And this is a scan done of the vehicle, and what the scan does, the 3D scans, is the same type of idea that once the vehicle is scanned and it is damaged such as this vehicle would be damaged, we're able to take the 3D scan, and also put it into computer reconstruction programs.

And the first step would be after it's scanned to be able to get the crush measurements from it which we can do. And then after that, do the next step and do the speed calculations. The interesting thing about 3D scanning is that you don't need to be an accident reconstructionist to take a 3D scan. You need a technician, and some of the companies have a lot of field guys that do technician work. I do all my work, but a technician certainly could scan a car. Well, once a technician scans a car he can bring that car back to the office, they can take the scanned information and, like I was saying, do the crush and the speed.

Where the other method I showed you, about two more. This method is a specific method you have to be trained, and I would want an accident reconstruction person to actually do this type of work. So you know one thing about crush deformation, it has on top, we can't do crash deformation unless we have the cars. Can't do it by photographs because, unless it's an aerial photograph, you can't do it from street level because it doesn't give you the depth of the crush. So that's why people like to employ, you know, smaller companies, like, they'll employ 3D laser scanning because they can send a technician if they have maybe two guys who do accident reconstructions. They may be in-house doing the reconstructions but they can send the technicians out to actually do the scans of the cars.

So I showed you crush, this is the download, this is the module from a car. Lawyers commonly refer to this as a black box. It's not a black box, it's a small silver box, and it has been...it started probably in earnest in the early 1990s. And it's grown to a scenario now that we download cars... It used to be just GM and Ford cars. So now we're able to download cars not only for GM, but Jeeps are online, Toyotas are online, Lexus are online. So if you want to know if you can download a car it's a very easy, call your expert, it's a PDF file, he can send it to you. But once you have access to that type of information, this also, downloaded properly, can give you the speeds of cars.

This is the type of information you may see: you may see speed of deployment, you may see seat belt usage, the speed of non-deployment, acceleration patterns as far as the person whether braking, had the foot in on the accelerator. So you can get very valuable information from CDR downloads.

And it's really not...most of them aren't hard to understand. This is the type of diagram you look at. They've gotten more. Chevys used to be about five pages long. I just downloaded a Pontiac G8 and it was 37 pages. So the download information we're getting from cars as technology gets more advanced, we're getting more information from cars. I got a note here, "Speed it up." Okay. This is a real-life tractor-trailer case.

Frank: Same technology that's available for cars is also available for trucks now. So not all trucks, it has to be a certain...and it's not the truck itself it's, really the engine in the truck that tells us whether it can be downloaded as a D... It's called a D-deck download. Let me show you. I think I have a picture of one. I'm going to give you one more view of a... This is the type of download we would look for on a truck. If we're interested in the speed of the truck, we can get some valuable information with regards to why this vehicle rolled over. I apologize, I don't have the module in itself. But the module is called a D-deck module. It's the same type of technology similar to what cars are.

But the technology in itself is a little more sensitive. What I mean by that is the car's data, the CDRs in cars aren't as sensitive. When we have tractor-trailer, we going to have tractors were trying to download. If the tractor... It's called a hard break or last stop recording. What happens in cases are a hard break or last stop, there's usually two recordings of a tractor. So that tractor, that subject tractor that's involved in an accident, and I'll give you for instance when a tractor-trailer is rear-ended and the trailer is struck.

Well, when the police take the trailer and put it in impoundment and let the tractor go which is not uncommon, all that tractor needs to do is go on under two heavy break applications from the time of the accident to the time we inspected, and whatever data is on that tractor is gone. So it's a very time sensitive type of scenario. We can tell you, once we get the van [SP] we can tell you what type of information you can expect from the tractor download.

And I've told people that, you know, we can't... You're not going to get any hard brake and you're not going to get any last stop, you're just going to get historic data which is not uncommon. And the question is, can you guarantee? I can't guarantee that's the data we get off of it. So more likely than not that they'll move forward and say, "Look, I got to have an answer. Whether there's anything on this or not, go ahead and download it." But I also want to be able to tell you in advance what to expect, because some people think that once it's downloaded, we're going to have all this crash information. Well, it's not true. And it's a very sensitive thing.

The other thing that's not on here, let me see if I have here. Here's a tractor-trailer that's damaged... I should have looked up top. That's the d-deck depth module off a tractor-trailer, and this is the type of information you get about 60 seconds prior to the crash. Same type of information in regards to acceleration patterns, speed. And you have to verify that the d-deck download is actually related to the accident. If it's taken right out of service there's no questions about that. But you may be downloading an event that's not related to your accident. So you have to make sure that that type of scenario is not true, not a problem.

I'd like to present everything to you. There's this... This is called V'stroke brake analysis. Anybody who's hired a person to do forensic truck inspections know that we check the stroke rods. It's done manually where two people, one applies the brakes and pushes on the stroke rods. Now there's this type of technology, I've only seen it once. My company does not use this technology, but I wanted to let you know it's out there.

It electronically does everything we used to do mechanically, and I cannot tell you more than that. I don't know how accurate it is. I hear it's accurate. I would want to field test it before I believe it. Use this and use manually and field test two problems, but this is also something that's out there. It's called V'stroke braking analysis. It gives you these types of picture, these are tractor-trailer brakes, and the red ones are out of stroke, and the yellow ones are borderline, and the green ones are fine. So see that in this field.

Once you realize now that so much is on video now, whether it's a drive cam video inside a bus, we get buses, whether it's an external video of a crash such as like this. This is a tractor-trailer collision. It's going to... Well, not a collision, but it runs over my client on the left-hand side, a worker stopping the truck, you can see. He's like, "Oh, my foot," it runs over her foot. Here she comes. But a lot of things are on video, and when we deal with tractor-trailers now, you're going to realize that a lot of the available information is available video-wise inside a cab, buses, especially. You'll see people who do this, you'll know what I'm talking about, you'll see a four frame type of picture where it's looking at the passengers, it's looking at the side, it's looking at the back, it's a security camera.

This type of information, what I would recommend too is we get situations where someone wants to provide us with a video file, and it's not uncommon for the video file to come in and not have the proper software. And then we have problems where we have to have discussions about getting the proper software to run the file that they said. So I tell people is the first step when they send a private investigator out usually, say for bus location, if you can go to the monitor and they're playing the crash for you, I will highly recommend you videoing the monitor just as the first step to know that we at least have that as a piece of information. So when the electronic file comes through, if there's any kind of problems, we know we least have a video of a video basically, but it's still a usable type of format. 

Qualcomm data is a GPS. You'll see it all the time. I don't have a picture here, but it's used for tracking, real-time tracking of trucks. People who are delivery-type of basis want Qualcomm to be able to track trucks. We can get speeds from the Qualcomm data. But as I tell people, when you're a plaintiff and you're responding, and you want all kinds of information from the trucking company, you've got to make sure that you know, as far as discovery, what you're asking for.

Because I also work for defense firms too, and if it's not phrased the right way, if you just say, "I want the video of the truck," if it's not phrased the right way, they may not give it to you because they feel like it's not what you're requesting. So that's why the inspections are important because when we inspect a car, a truck, a tractor-trailer, while we're out there, we'll see what the truck is equipped with. So when you make a discovery request, we're able to give you the correct terminology of what you're requesting, so there's no gaps in the language or the communications that you're dealing with.

I also had a situation, I mean, we talk about technology and things that we just don't really understand can be done is I had a motorcycle accident where a person had a tom-tom on his vehicle. And I realized that they can be now downloaded. So we're in an area now that if you have a vehicle or you have a tractor-trailer or a newer vehicle, newer tractor-trailer, a newer motorcycle. I don't know of any motorcycles that ever can be downloaded, but the equipment on the motorcycle sometimes can be downloaded, but you won't know this type of information unless you are able to actually do the grunt work, I would say. Get out there and inspect whatever you're requesting first. Any questions?

Emily: And could all the attendees please type that passcode into the Q&A once again? The first question is what is the difference between animation and simulation and might there be differing judiciary regard as to admissibility and evidentiary weight regarded differently?

Frank: Simulations and animations are really the same thing. As far as acceptability, I'll give you from both ends. A plaintiff hires a person to do an animation. Well, the defense is going to look at the animation and want to know... It's a time-distance analysis. It's showing a movement of a vehicle on a roadway and that speed. So you want to be able to factually be able to establish that whatever the animation is done is actually correct to a point. And I've had defense people... I've had animations, seen animations done where they base it off a statement of a person, or an eyewitness saying, "I think the tractor-trailer was going 55." So they do an animation going 55. Well, the defense comes in and, you know, they're asking the person and they're saying, "Well, maybe 50 to 55, maybe 45 to 55."

Well, when you change the speed, you're changing the animation. So the argument's going to be, like I said before, that they'll tell the judge, "You can't show that. It's prejudicial. It's not accurate." So as far as the admissibility, and admissibility of an animation goes up, the more it's based on the scientific kind of field analysis that you have.

Emily: And what are the cost considerations for the different types of animation?

Frank: Well, I can tell you this, the cost of an animation goes up the more movement you have in an animation. The more movement you have is the more expensive it is. For instance, if you had just the truck go down and collides into a tree and rotates off, those animations are going to be reasonable. But when you have multiple moving parts like that one I showed you where the child is running across the roadway, those types of animation, the more they get more expensive. So I can't tell you how expensive. It really depends on each one you do, but you can know that the animation will increase as you have more movement in it.

Emily: Can you get the police electronic file through the FOIA request or would you have to issue a subpoena?

Frank: You will have to issue a subpoena. The police, unless you have a great cooperation with the local police department, they will not give you the electronic file without a subpoena. I know the problems with that because sometimes you want to be able to evaluate the case without the subpoena. But I can only speak for, in my area, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, that you will not get the electronic file without a subpoena. And, you know, whoever you hire as an accident reconstruction, should try to develop some kind of relationship with the investigator or the person in our area like the state police to do the reconstruction. Because that type of cooperation, once they know that they're comfortable with you, they may be able, electronically through an email, just send it to you, but it has to be done through a subpoena.

Emily: So to make a 3D scan, all you have to do is have a 2D photo of the scene. Without that, can you do a 3D scan?

Frank: You can't go from a 2D picture to a 3D scan. The only way to get a 3D scan of a roadway is to physically take the scanner out to the roadway and scan it. It can't be done from a photograph. It can be done from an aerial photograph, like...

Emily: And where are the black...

Frank: I'm sorry. It can be done from an aerial photograph using a drone, but it can't just be done from a normal photograph.

Emily: And where are the black boxes usually located in vehicles?

Frank: Well, they are located all over the place. The Chevy and the GMs are more accessible now. Most of the Chevy trucks are underneath the tunnel which means between the front driver and the passenger, the armrest where you put everything in. A lot of them are on the tunnel. GM, some of them are under the passenger seat. Lexus and Toyota make them less accessible and they put them behind the dash. But we'll be able to know where they are before we go out because that may be an issue as far as trying to get access to the module if it's in a repairable state it may be an issue. If there are total loss, usually it's not.

Emily: Is the car module an individually installed box for each car thus you have to get it from each individual car involved in a relevant case?

Frank: The modules in themselves, the software that's related to downloads, we have different cables and we have different software's to download different vehicles, especially for trucks. So it's not like one cable downloads all the modules, I think that's what he's trying to infer, but every module has a different hardware interface. It has the same software but a lot of them have a different hardware interface.

Emily: What do you suggest when there's a homicide and the police withhold the vehicle/truck for long periods of time to ensure that these data recorders are preserved, if you do not know the proper terminology?

Frank: Can you repeat that Emily, one more time?

Emily: Sure. What do you suggest when there's a homicide and the police withhold the vehicle/truck for long periods of time to ensure that these data recorders are preserved, if you don't know the proper terminology?

Frank: Well, if they're preserving the cars for you then that's a good thing if you don't know the proper terminology. There's general terminology you can use for cars: CDR, EDRs. As far as trucks, you can use general terminology with trucks. I think what I was trying to tell you is as far as electronic data like Qualcomm, there's different type of tracking systems, like there's probably four or five on the market. How do you make sure they don't lose that type of data? Well, if the police have them in impoundment then you're going to have access to it one way or the other. But I guess my answer would be that's probably why you need an expert for him to be able to give you some information about the language to put in your request.

Emily: And in reference to a traffic accident, have you heard anything about downloading data from a cell phone, like an application to determine the speed of the vehicle or the path traveled?

Frank: No, I haven't heard anything to that. I know phones are equipped with GPS's now, they use Wise and different applications to do driving, but I've not heard of any means to download cell phones, no.

Emily: Okay, those are all the questions we have. So thanks so much for answering those. In addition to being your best source for testifying and consulting experts, TASA also offers e-discovery and forensic solutions, free interactive webinars, cybersecurity services, day-in-the-life [SP] videos, and research reports on expert witnesses, such as the Challenge History Report 2.0, the Professional Sanctions Search, and the Expert Profile 360.

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone for attending, and especially Frank Constanzo, for his time and effort in creating this presentation. If you would like to speak with Mr. Constanzo, or if you would like to speak with a TASA representative regarding expert witness for a case that you are working on, please contact TASA at 1-800-523-2319. Vishal [SP] Hall, who has been sitting in on today's webinar will be following up with you with regard to your feedback on today's presentation. Thank you again for attending and have a great day everyone. This concludes our program for today.

Frank: Thank you.

Previous Article Electrical Equipment Failures - Cause & Liability
Next Article Driving Under the Influence: The DUI/DWI Case
Tasa ID399

Theme picker

  • Let Us Find Your Expert

  • Note: This form is to be completed by legal and insurance professionals ONLY. If you are a party in a case that requires an expert witness, please have your attorney contact TASA at 800-523-2319.

Search Experts

TASA provides a variety of quality, independent experts who meet your case criteria. Search our extensive list of experts now.

Search Experts