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An Overview of Vehicular Accident Reconstruction

TASA ID: 1183

The Science


Vehicular accident reconstruction is a fascinating science.  It is different from other engineering analyses in that an unplanned event, the collision, is the focus of the analysis.  Things do not unfold in any planned sequence, and often evidence is missing or has many missing elements in it.  So accident investigation often has a real cloak-and-dagger aspect to it.

The basic science of accident investigation is Dynamics, how physical objects move under the influence of forces.  These objects—vehicles—must obey Newton’s Second Law during their entire trajectories before, during, and after a collision.  This sequence is carefully broken down into a time line (when what happened) and a location map (where the events in the sequence occurred).  The problem is worked backwards in time and place, starting with the end resting position of the vehicles, working your way back to the point of collision, looking at the actual collision itself, and then working your way back from the collision to the point where the drivers of the vehicles recognized an impending collision and took evasive action.

The Author

This expert (TASA ID #: 1183) is a professor of Mechanical Engineering at California Polytechnic State University and also a principal in the engineering consulting firm, polyXengineering, Inc.  He has taught mechanical engineering for 23 years in California, Maine and also for three years in Germany.  He worked for a year as a researcher in the field of automation in Northern Italy.  He is a registered Professional Engineer (California and Maine) and is an ACTAR-certified accident reconstructionist.  Please contact TASA if you would like to contact this expert. Reference TASA ID #: 1183


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