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Reconstructionists put together the how and why of car accidents

The minivan was moving at precisely 36 mph and the Chevy Impala was going exactly 17 mph as it headed purposefully for the van’s driver’s side. A parking lot collision was inevitable. A nearby crowd of people stood and watched as the Impala crashed into the van, crushing the front side of the white vehicle. “Nice job,” one of the onlookers said.

This wasn’t a case of someone taking pleasure in the misery of others. This was a motor vehicle accident staged by the University of Tulsa Crash Reconstruction Research Consortium team to help reconstructionists understand the physical dynamics of “an angled-approach collision with secondary impact.”

There were no occupants in the vehicles. No one was injured. No one’s insurance company will be getting a call. The staged crash in Morton, Illinois, was part of an annual conference of accident investigators. This particular type of crash often happens in intersections and parking lots, but can also happen when someone backs a vehicle out of a driveway.

A police officer watching the staged crash said the angled-approach crash “is the most common type of accident we need to reconstruct.”

Accident investigators do their best to reconstruct how and why crashes occur. They can be employed by law enforcement agencies, insurance companies and others to determine liability for accidents that not only cause damage to vehicles, but also result in serious injuries and fatalities.

In some situations, experienced personal injury attorneys also make use of reconstructionist to demonstrate to a court how a careless or negligent driver caused a crash.

Source:, “Crash investigators smash vehicles together during annual conference in East Peoria and Morton,” Steve Stein, Sept. 17, 2014


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