Accident Reconstruction

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by sideman, Nov 19, 2018.

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  1. sideman

    sideman Active Member

    I am currently in between semesters and looking for an online course that would help me specifically in traffic accident reconstruction. It can be a short course such as in continuing education. Most of the courses I've found are either too technical (they require a degree in engineering) or police related (and will only accept law enforcement). I found an online certicate program at the Center for Legal Studies in legal investigation but I don't know how deep they would go into this particular area and don't want to spend $729 just to find out. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
     
  2. decimon

    decimon Well-Known Member

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  3. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

  4. perrymk

    perrymk Member

    I keep getting emails from these guys. Maybe they have or can create something for you. It appears they accept civilian students.

    https://csiacademyflorida.com/
     
  5. sideman

    sideman Active Member

    I appreciate the referral. I emailed them and their response was that they don't offer anything at this time, but should they find an instructor for traffic accident reconstruction they would likely start one up. So, if nothing else, we've given them another idea for a course. But otherwise I like the way they run their current programs so I'll certainly monitor their offerings.
     
  6. MattS

    MattS New Member

    Speaking as a traffic crash reconstructionist (though it's been a few years since I've done active investigations), I'm not sure there are a whole lot of education/training opportunities out there in between the world of engineering/physics and the LE world. Northwestern and IPTM are certainly the two premier sources for the LE side, but I'm assuming you have already investigated those options. Honestly, the LE side (in my opinion, though it's an opinion based on taking a lot of undergrad physics) is the least technical route you can go and it still involves a lot of math. Crash reconstruction is just applied physics.
     
  7. sideman

    sideman Active Member

    Thanks for the response Matt. Do you think it would behoove me then to take a class in applied physics? I don't have the aptitude or motivation to go deeply into engineering courses, hence I was looking at it more from an LE side, but from what I've seen a course or two in applied physics certainly looks doable. Since I am in a safety industry this is something I'd like to add to my wheelhouse, no matter how limited it would be. Thanks again.
     
  8. MattS

    MattS New Member

    Physics classes which cover basic forces, friction (skidding vehicles), conservation of linear momentum, projectile motion (airborne vehicles) and so forth will give you the basis for being able to apply these principles to vehicle crashes. If you are dedicated enough to take that knowledge and combine it with a book like Fundamentals of Crash Reconstruction (Daily, Shigemura, and Daily), you'd probably have a pretty good knowledge base. I suppose you could always order the book and see if the physics classes are necessary (not sure of your background).

    It also depends on what exactly you want to do with the knowledge. There are also all kinds of specialty areas in crash reconstruction (pedestrian/bike crashes, train crashes, occupant kinematics, vehicle damage analysis, etc.). It can be a perishable skill if you're not using it regularly, even with the basics. If you are looking just to get an idea about the fundamentals without applying the knowledge, maybe the book alone is your best bet.
     
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  9. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    In the world of Mechanical Engineering Technology you learn a lot about the physics of doing things like building bridges. Stress and strain, dynamic loading, thermal expansion, all those good things are considerations in the design of such structures. However, in the real world no one actually does these calculations very often. They've all been done and redone with almost endless permutations and all the equations are now built into software programs so that all you really have to do is plug some values into variables re span, load (traffic), environment (wind, ice, etc.) and the software does the work for you. Certainly a knowledge of the underlying physics is useful but, these days, theoretically a person could design a perfectly functional bridge without knowing any of that. I'd be willing to bet that it's much the same in the case of accident reconstruction.
     
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  10. MattS

    MattS New Member

    There is certainly advanced software out there (if you can afford it) which will do the underlying calculations for you, diagram your scene based on total station data (again, if you can afford the equipment), and produce some nice animations as well. Given the expense, however, many agencies (government or private) cannot afford the equipment and must take a more traditional approach. I would say the main difference between building a bridge (assuming the bridge doesn't collapse) and reconstructing a crash is the reconstruction of a crash is almost always for a potential civil or criminal court case (or both). When the reconstructionist goes to court to testify and is grilled, answering "the software told me so" will probably not sit well with the judge and/or jury. If you don't have an underlying understanding of the physics involved, there is the potential to look quite foolish. If you need to testify as an "expert" (as I have), that's a whole other round of grilling before you even get to the trial.
     
  11. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    I was once advised to reply "NO!" if anyone ever asked you to testify in court as an expert witness. They said that the questioning is much more rigorous and sometimes rather nasty. The last time I was in court was because a Police Officer discovered my Jeep's taillight was out and then discovered that my insurance had lapsed (oops). A mandatory summons was the result. Courthouse lobbies are interesting places. Lot's of stories to be heard if you're in the mood to listen. As for the accident reconstruction, I can understand how it can get pretty complicated. Conflicting narratives mixed up with potentially complicated physics.

    upload_2018-12-4_14-54-21.jpeg
     
  12. sideman

    sideman Active Member

    And this is what I want to avoid at all costs (i.e. looking foolish) and where my current occupation intersects with accident reconstruction. In the future I will be used as an expert witness due to my experience in the safety industry that I'm in. I can see where not only could I be eaten alive at trial but also definitely at depositions. Since the accidents that I report on sometimes involve automobiles or trucks too, I just want to have enough knowledge so that I can complement the accident reconstruction expert.

    So thanks to you Matt, I will most likely order the book you suggested earlier just to gain an oversight on what can be a complex xubject indeed.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2018
  13. MattS

    MattS New Member

    It's definitely a mixed bag. There can be some good money in it. But, being on the government's side, it was always just my job (and I didn't have a choice since I was subpoenaed). I doubt I'll go into that line of work when I retire, as this education thing has provided other financial opportunities.

    Obviously, I don't know all the details, but I can't imagine you being asked (or qualified) to be an expert in something (crash reconstruction specifically) where you have no formal training or why you would want to attempt such a thing. Reading a book can certainly be a good introduction, but it's an introduction at best. At any rate, I have attended conferences and classes with both Dailys and Shigemura; they are the real deal when it comes to expertise and their book is widely used in the LE arena. Good luck and feel free to reach out to me if you have any other questions.
     
  14. sideman

    sideman Active Member

    To try to pose as an accident reconstruction expert would certainly be foolhardy and I certainly could not or would not attempt such a thing. Where I have been asked to assist is in a niche area of a particular case where the attorney of the defense thinks my knowledge in my safety industry, in tandem with the accident reconstruction expert, would be valuable. To go into more detail would risk possibly losing my anonymity, something I do wish to maintain at least publicly on this forum. My only pursuit in this is more understanding in the accident reconstruction field from a curiosity standpoint and to kill some time in between semesters.

    I appreciate your offer to answer more questions and to contact you should the need arise. Your counsel has been valuable and I do wish you well.
     
  15. MattS

    MattS New Member

    Gotcha...that makes sense! No offense intended, I just wanted to make sure I wasn't encouraging you to bite off more than you could (or should) chew. Looks like you know your own appetite well ;)
     
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