How Does Technology Impact Car Accident Investigations?
Electronic computer modules, video recordings, and safety sensors are some of the valuable technologies that have significantly enhanced accident investigations. They capture several elements of vehicle and driver behavior, including speed, steering position, application of brakes, and whether seat belts were worn, to mention a few. The information obtained from them supports conclusions on why and how an accident happened, whether a particular driver caused the accident, and to what extent an at-fault driver contributed to the accident.
Electronic Computer Modules
Electronic computer modules (ECMs) store data that helps show what happened to a vehicle during an accident. In commercial trucks, ECMs record the last two hard stops a truck makes as well as data on the last stop. The data recorded includes speed, braking input before a hard brake or previous stop, and throttle percentage.
The airbag control modules (ACMs) installed in passenger vehicles start to record data five to eight seconds prior to airbag deployment. The data captured includes:
- The car’s speed over the last seconds
- Where the driver braked during those last seconds
- Whether he or she veered and to what extent
Nowadays, passenger ACMs can also record the crash severity, referred to as Delta-V. Delta-V is the change in speed a car experienced as it collided with an object or another vehicle.
The information obtained from electronic modules benefits car accident investigations by uncovering certain aspects of a crash. For example, the data recorded can help show a person’s driving style before the accident and any significant braking or lack of it before and at impact.
Video has had a game-changing effect on accident investigation and reconstruction in recent years. Dashcams help reconstruct accidents, especially if they occur in the camera view. The footage they collect can help confirm the driver that was at fault. For example, the video can clearly show the driver that changed into another’s lane.
Surveillance technologies are being mounted across more public spaces, highways, intersections, business offices, warehouses, and homes. Video quality has increased massively over the years. As a result, surveillance videos have become a critical part of accident investigations. People check the area around accident sites to look for any possible surveillance footage that could have captured an accident.
Cameras are increasingly being mounted at the sides and rear of passenger vehicles and trucks. Besides helping drivers see blind spots better, these cameras can also help determine why and how accidents occur.
Safety sensors are installed in vehicles with the primary objective of improving crash avoidance and minimizing collisions. Nevertheless, the event recordings triggered by the sensors can be used to help establish why or how an accident occurred. Examples of such safety technologies include forward-facing radar sensors, which slow trucks automatically if the traffic ahead stops or slows suddenly, lane departure warning, tire pressure monitoring systems, and sway sensors.
Traditional forms of evidence, such as witness recollections, have proven to be unreliable on a number of occasions. When the advanced technologies above are combined with other forms of collecting crash scene evidence, such as checking skid marks, vehicle rest positions, and structural damage, reliable accident investigation and reconstruction calculations become easier to obtain.