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G1 CONAT20042063

STAGED COLLISION ANALYSE


RUŞITORU Florin (*), BEŢIU Grigoraş, DUMITRESCU Cristian
National Institute of Forensic Expertise – NIFE
ROMANIA
KEYWORDS : proficiency test; staged collision; pre-crash speed; accident simulation; brake test
ABSTRACT
The National Institute of Forensic Expertise - NIFE is a member of the European Network of
Forensic Science Institutes – ENFSI and in this quality its experts attend at the meetings of the
Expert Working Group-EWG. At one of the last meeting of the Road Accident EWG the Dutch
member proposed to organize a staged collision for a proficiency test. As an ENFSI internal rule
proficiency testing relates to the systems within the laboratory, but may also provide some
information on the competence of individuals participating in the tests. Because the initial
velocities were available this test could not count as an official proficiency test.

First the accident survey of a nominated case was analyzed and the relationships of the two
vehicles (VW Golf and Opel Kadett) were investigated. The drawing of the accident side was
made by the Dutch police (KLPD) using a “total station” measurement device in combination with
reference photography. By request a crash test was performed for the Netherlands Forensic
Institute – NFI by Crashtest-service.com GmbH.

In the second phase all members of the Road Accident EWG tried to calculate the pre crash speeds
of the two vehicles involved in the impact. Based on this survey data the Romanian experts came
to a reasonable result using both classical calculation and software application. The approximate
velocity of the Opel vehicle in the moment just before the impact, was determined based on the
law of conservation of motion quantity. The velocity of VW vehicle during turning left on the other
street was estimated. Finally the well known equation of velocity determination based on the
skidding phase of the accident was applied. The accident was also analyzed with the PC Crash
computer simulation software and the velocities values results were near the classical calculation.

The brake test made showed some oscillations which were explained by the inappropriate status of
suspension. We made also some reflections about the guilt attribution and what proof does the
court need for that.

The results of the experiment are discussed as well as the usability of the methodology for
calculation of the pre crash speeds in accident reconstruction.

MAIN SECTION

The National Institute of Forensic Expertise - NIFE is a member of the European Network of
Forensic Science Institutes – ENFSI and in this quality its experts attend the meetings of the
Expert Working Group- EWG.

At one of the last meeting of the Road Accident EWG the Dutch member proposed to organize a
staged collision for a proficiency test. As an ENFSI internal rule proficiency testing relates to the
systems within the laboratory, but may also provide some information on the competence of
individuals participating in the tests. The design and implementation of the proficiency tests should
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be carried out in accordance with the recommendations of the ENFSI Guidelines on the Conduct of
Proficiency Tests and Collaborative Exercises. The laboratory Quality Assurance Manager should
ensure that the test is completed in a timely manner, and that the test data and information is
collected and returned to the proficiency test coordinator, or other designated individual, for
evaluation.

However, because the initial velocities were available from the Dutch member - the Mechanical
Engineering Department of the Netherlands Forensic Institute - this test could not count as an
official proficiency test.

CASE

The following case was provided:


In an inside city road crossing a VW Golf vehicle turning left was hit by an oncoming OPEL
Kadett vehicle. After the impact the two vehicles occupied the following rest positions:

Photograph 1 The VW Golf rest position

VW
Golf

Photograph 2
Viewing from
the other side
OPEL
OPEL VW
VWGolf
Golf
with OPEL
rest position

Photograph 3 Photograph 4
Long half view of the front left side of OPEL Long half view of the front right side of OPEL

On the accident side were remarked some brake traces and liquid draining zone.
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Photograph 5 Accident site

Photograph 6 Accident site

POLICE INVESTIGATION

In The Netherlands, the regional police investigate all serious traffic accidents(1).. The drawing of
the accident side was made by the Dutch police (KLPD) using a “total station” measurement
device in combination with reference photography. By request a crash test was performed for the
Netherlands Forensic Institute – NFI by Crashtest-service.com GmbH. The police made
photographs of the vehicles, without making crush measurements.

In the photogrammetric drawing presented in Photograph 7 the double black lines represent tyre
marks. The green 'glob' is leaked cooling fluid. End positions A and B represent the Opel Kadett
and VW respectively. Red lines are scratches. The vehicles were released from a sled just before
the collision.
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Photograph 7 Drawing of the accident side

Photograph 8
Collision reconstruction by police

The best way to determinate the angle impact is to position the vehicles at the impact point in an
overlapped position corresponding to the amount of vehicle crush.
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DAMAGES

Though at least 18 different camera angles are required as a minimum to adequately cover the
exterior of a vehicle, there are four basis wide-angles view that must be taken first : front, rear and
one from each side(2). These shots were taken by the Dutch police and are represented down.

Photograph 8 The four basis wide-angles view of OPEL Kadett

Photograph 9 The four basis wide-angles view of VW Golf


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Also there were taken some close-up pictures of the front side damages of the two vehicles.

Photograph 10 Close- up damage OPEL Kadett

Photograph 11 Close- up damage VW Golf

Analysing the impact position and the resulted damages enabled to determinate the pre-collision
driving directions, confirming one of the possible assumption.

THE EXERCISE PROBLEMS

After the Dutch national police (KLPD) have performed the usual survey afterwards, the resulting
data were enclosed. Based on this data, the Dutch experts came to a reasonable result, thinking the
data is adequate. They sent the values of the initial velocities in a closed envelope, to enable
checking the result of calculation.
They propose the following topics:
- Calculation of pre-crash speeds;
- Guilt attribution; Remarks on the accident survey and on the staged accident itself.
- The cause of the brake test (where do the oscillations come from?)

Therefore all members of the Road Accident EWG tried to calculate the pre-crash speeds of the
two vehicles involved in the impact.
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CALCULATION OF PRE-CRASH SPEEDS

Classical determination
Based on this survey data the Romanian experts came to a reasonable result using both classical
calculation and software application. The approximate velocity of the Opel vehicle in the moment
just before the impact, was determined based on the law of conservation of motion quantity. The
velocity of VW vehicle during turning left on the other street was estimated. Finally the well
known equation of velocity determination based on the skidding phase of the accident was
applied.

The next equation was applied :


æ G ö
VOpel = ç1 + VW ÷ × 26 gS t f + GVW × VVW
¢
ç G ÷ G
è Opel ø Opel

where the terms are :

GVW, GOPEL = vehicle weights – Volkswagen, Opel


St= distance covered by the vehicles, moving together after collision/impact
f = friction coefficient
g[m/s2] = gravitational constant
'
VVW = VVW × cos 58°
= the component (projection) of VW velocity on horizontal axis

According to the angle between the two vehicles at impact time, it was considered that the
Volkswagen vehicle was turning left merging Munsterstreet.
Based on the sharp angle between Dwarsroad and Munsterstreet, the velocity during turning left
was estimated as VVW = 15 – 20 km/h.

Replacing the terms into equation, the Opel velocity is

æ 1137 ö 1137
VOpel = ç1 + ÷ × 26 × 9,81 × 5 × 0,65 + × 6,9
è 860 ø 860
VOPEL = 75,91 km/h.

Software determination

The accident was also analyzed with the PC


Crash v.7.1 computer simulation software.
In order to get a realistic simulation of a
collision it was important to position the
vehicles at impact with the proper amount of
overlap, when the exchange of the principal
crash forces occur(3).

Photograph 12
Overlapped position corresponding to the
amount of vehicle crush
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After that we took the vehicles rest positions from the accident side drawing and simulated the
impact.

Photograph 13 The PC CRASH windows case application


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In the context of an accident investigation animation is simply a visual representation of
reconstructed incident. It is a way of making the results of the reconstruction, however they have
been obtained, more accessible to both the investigator and the court.
The numbers provided to the animation are crucial and their reliability and accuracy are dependent
on the underlying simulation. The investigator needs to avoid the seductive appeal of the quality of
the animation and concentrate on the quantitative reliability of the figures being used to drive it (4).
Thus we made also an animation in a 3D view of the scene with the vehicles positioned to match
the current frame in the simulation.

Photograph 14 Some frames from the case animation

The velocities values results, 83 km/h for OPEL Kadett and 13 km/h for VW Golf, were near the
classical calculation (74,67 km/h respectively 15-20 km/h).

The values of the initial velocities sent in the closed envelope by the Dutch experts, were as
follows:
VW Golf: 17.0 km/h Opel Kadett: 70.4 km/h

As finding the maximum velocity error of 16 % could be due to choosing of a wrong friction
coefficient. For bringing up the velocity determination precision it is quite necessary the friction
coefficient to be measured at the accident site.

GUILT ATTRIBUTION

We made also some reflections about the guilt attribution and what proof does the court need for
that.
According to initial data, the Opel vehicle wheels draw a 20 m skid mark, ending at the collision
site. The velocity loss by braking is calculated as follows:

26 × g × f red × S pat
V = 1,8 × t 3 × fmax +
Ke
where:

t3= deceleration increase time (time needed to reach the maximum braking intensity)
g[m/s2] = gravitational constant
fmax= friction coefficient before wheel block
fred= coefficient of sliding friction
Spat= length of skid mark
Ke= braking system efficiency coefficient – by vehicle category
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Replacing the terms into equation
26 × 9.81 × 0,75 × 20
V = 1,8 × 0,2 × 9,81 × 0,8 +
1

VVW = 64,67 km/h = aprox. 65 km/h

In conclusion if the Opel driver had been driving with maximum allowed speed – 50 km/h, he
would have succeeded to stop at the boundary of impact place, under the given conditions of
danger awareness and reaction. Having the legal maximum speed on the road sector of 50 km/h,
the aspect to be recorded is that the Opel driver contributed to the accident.

BRAKE TEST

Photograph 15

Brake tests for


both vehicles
at 40 km/h
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The police also performed brake tests at the accident site using the vehicles involved. A VZM 300
accelerometer was used, the results are attached (one line represents the measured deceleration,
another is the result after correction for the vehicle’s pitch movement). Each test was performed
twice but as the results were almost identical only one set of results is presented here. Some brake
tests were made at different velocities for both vehicles. All tests distinguish the efficiency of the
braking systems and also enable the evaluation of friction coefficient.

The Braking diagram a = f(t) allows observing the braking system inertia (i.e. the determination
of initial reaction time, effective braking time and final reaction time)
In the given case, the oscillations are probably generated by the inappropriate status of suspension.
Thus, the inappropriate status of suspension determines the longitudinal oscillation of the vehicle
just after it's complete stop, generating a sinusoidal variation of the signal recorded by the
accelerometer.

CONCLUSION

The question of pre-crash speeds determination is one of the most important in accident
reconstruction. This paper has attempted to point out, using a comparative study, the precision of
determinations done by classic methods and software applications currently used in traffic
accidents analysis.

A relatively good precision in determining speed can be pointed out, regardless of used methods, a
combined usage of those being highly recommended. Any following analysis is still however
highly dependant on the quality and quantity of information acquired shortly or just after the
accident.

As we have seen the accurate determination of speed is extremely important as it can attract the
driver’s legal responsibility, even he had not broken any traffic law at the first evaluation.

The present work has not been based on a detailed analysis of the break test, the inappropriate
status of suspension being a well-known reduction factor in the effectiveness of the breaking
system. Under these conditions, considering the shape of the signal obtained using the
accelerometer we thought it interesting to point out this aspect as well, and particularly what we
believe to be it's determining factor.

The results of the experiment are discussed as well as the usability of the methodology for
calculation of the pre-crash speeds in accident reconstruction.

REFERENCES

1. Spek A.: Implementation of Monte Carlo technique in a time- forward vehicle accident
reconstruction program, Proceedings of the Seventh Conference on Problems in
Reconstructing Road Accidents, Krakow, 2000, pp 111-118.
2. Van Kirk D.J.: Vehicular Accident Investigation and Reconstruction, CRC Press, ISBN 0-
8493-2020-8, pp 93-131.
3. PC CRASH Operating Manual v.7.1, Dr.Steffan Datentechnic, Linz, 2003, pp 38-39.
4. Rudram D.: Simulation & Animation, Proceedings of the Seventh Conference on Problems
in Reconstructing Road Accidents, Krakow, 2000, pp 11-13.