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Identifying the cause of a car accident

When police and rescue personnel respond to a serious motor vehicle accident, their first priority is to find and treat the people who have been injured in the crash. This may entail moving wrecked vehicles and even using heavy machinery to extricate trapped occupants. The injured are given whatever medical treatment is necessary and possible at the scene. At some point police and accident investigators also begin to attempt to reconstruct the crash to determine exactly what happened in the moments leading up to the crash.

There are many small pieces of information which need to be collected and analyzed in order to conduct an accident reconstruction. In some cases it can be difficult to determine which driver may have caused the accident or what other factors may have been involved. This difficulty can be seen in a recent fatal accident in Michigan in which it is not yet clear which vehicle crossed the center line.

In this tragic accident, it did not appear that either vehicle had attempted to break before the two vehicles collided head on. Often skid marks are used to determine the exact location of the impact as well as determine a likely speed that the vehicle was traveling prior to impact. Sometimes when there is a high impact accident it can be difficult to even determine which car had been headed in which direction based only on the final position of the wreckage.

Even when police accident investigators do compile their final report on the cause of the accident, it may not be accurate. If an independent accident reconstruction may be needed in the aftermath of an accident it is important to take steps quickly to preserve the evidence. Not only do witness's memories fade with time, but any skid marks or gouges in the road caused by an accident may be difficult to identify with certainty as time passes.

Source: Observer and Eccentric, "Highland woman dies in car crash; 2 others hospitalized," Aileen Wingblad, Mar. 2, 2012

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