The Accident Investigation Unit is a unit that extensively investigates motor vehicle crashes. It is often mistaken that every motor vehicle crash is accidental. Motor vehicle crashes can sometimes include criminal intent, such as in vehicular homicide, as well as several other crimes in which a vehicle can be used as a weapon. When this occurs, it should be fully investigated. The Accident Investigation Unit is also called on to investigate and properly document crashes that involve serious bodily injury or death.
The Columbus Police Department currently has two advanced accident reconstructionists. Detective Brian Kushman and Patrolman Ben Quesenbery have attended the Institute of Police Technology and Management (IPTM) and completed both Accident Investigation 1 and 2 as well as Traffic Crash Reconstruction. Each individual course consisted of 80 hours of both hands-on and classroom training. IPTM provides management, traffic and specialized training to municipal, county, state and federal law enforcement officers. The Institute has since become the largest police training center of its kind in the United States.
In 2002, there was over 43,000 motor vehicle crash related deaths in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, when broken down by age, traffic crashes was the number 1 leading cause of death in the United States. For more information, visit www.nhtsa.com.
Accident Investigation involves analyzing a large amount of data from a crash scene. Although every police officer investigates motor vehicle crashes, our investigators specialize in the gathering of all available data to best determine what occurred before, during, and after the crash.
Accident Investigation also consists of determining how vehicles and bodies act and move during and after a collision. There are several factors involved with a motor vehicle collision. Below is a list that an accident investigator is responsible for obtaining during a scene investigation.
- Information from and about People
- Information from Vehicles
- Information from Roads
- Measuring and Mapping the Collision Scene
- Photographing the Collision Scene and Damaged Vehicles
- Vehicle damage analysis: description and reporting
- Vehicle behavior in accidents: understanding how and why vehicles behave as a result of a collision
- Results of the accident on the road: identifying and interpreting tire marks and road scars
- Lamp filament analysis: determining whether headlamps, taillights or turn signals were on or off at moment of impact
- Tire damage analysis: role of tire failure in accidents
- Measurement methods: perspective grid, photogrammetry, measurement techniques, diagram drawing, systematic methods for organizing and illustrating data
- Interpretation of data: use of all information obtained through investigation
- Specialized data gathering: measuring devices and other testing
- These are all important factors to be considered during an accident investigation.