You might be interested in CATAIR, the Canadian Association of Technical Accident Investigators and Reconstructionists.
It’s quite a mouthful but members of this national group do exactly that – figure out why and how a traffic accident happened, reconstruct it. Not too much different than figuring out why a building, bridge or mall collapsed or a person slipped and fell. The objectives are the same, the techniques are different.
This type of person – a reconstructionist, could show up in your civil case, engineering investigation or insurance claim’s file. One did on an engineering investigation of mine.
I attended the first session Sunday evening of CATAIR’s annual, week long AGM at the Holiday Inn, Halifax. The meeting is held in conjunction with a five day advanced collision reconstruction course. Getting familiar with new technology – a “silver box” in this case, to collect data on a collision from a vehicle’s black box.
An estimated 22 people will take the course. They come from across Canada and several U.S. states. I spoke with fellows from South Carolina, British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and New Brunswick. Another is up from Missouri. The course is being given by a well regarded chap from Maryland.
Similar groups exist in the U.S. but they are not national in scope – and a bit international, like CATAIR.
Many of the people taking the course are police officers or were at one time. Some others are private consultants – engineers and technologists of various stripes. Almost all investigate and reconstruct motor vehicle collisions. One, the chap in N.B., has gone on to educate truck fleet owners on avoiding collisions.
These people are very busy. The officers from Alberta and Ontario reconstruct collisions full time – no foot or car patrols for them. Not surprisingly, considering that there are approximately 3,000 motor vehicle fatalities in Canada each year and 15 times that in the U.S. Then there are the serious injury accidents that are investigated and reconstructed.
I was introduced to the group by engineering colleagues of mine, private consultants Dr. Stu Smith, Cliff Tyner and Al Tupper who reconstruct motor vehicle accidents. Ken Zwicker, President of the Atlantic provinces chapter of CATAIR, also a private consultant and former RCMP officer, has been quite supportive of my interest in the group.
My interest in CATAIR and accident reconstruction stems from my interest in different engineering and scientific investigative procedures and techniques and their application to forensic engineering. I was quite impressed a couple of years ago when I learned from Stu and Al of the quite rigid testing and analysing carried out in motor vehicle accident (MVA) reconstruction.
I investigated the cause of the John Morris Rankin fatal MVA a few years ago for the RCMP. I realize now that the police at the time gave me the results of a collision reconstruction by one of their own. Basically a description of the accident and the vehicle speed at the time. I was asked to establish if the pile of salt on the highway contributed to the accident.
I did this with full scale field testing – similar to that done in speed bump design, using the same type of vehicle driven by Mr. Rankin, a Toyota 4-Runner. I filmed the testing and this filming was key to demonstrating the contribution.
There are different types of accident investigation – police, insurance and workman’s compensation to name three. The results of collision reconstruction could contribute to any one of them: And show up in your civil litigation case or insurance claim’s file, as one did in mine.