Drones and Lasers Revolutionize Crash Reconstruction - 29/01/2019

A growing number of police agencies across the United States are using drones and lasers to transform the way investigators collect data of crash scenes. With the constant imminent risk of secondary crashes, the addition of a drone to help document crash scenes reduces the risk of secondary crashes by a factor of 24. Lasers are used to measure key ground measurements that can be overlaid with aerial photos and point data to ensure accuracy.

“Road safety is an issue that does not receive anywhere near the attention it deserves – and it really is one of our great opportunities to save lives around the world,” Michael Bloomberg, WHO global ambassador for noncommunicable disease and injuries. The Global Status Report on Road Safety of 2018 states that road traffic accidents claim more than 1.35 million lives each year globally. That's 3,750 lives each day. Furthermore, road traffic crashes are now the leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of 5 and 29.

Blocked or shut down roadways are an inconvenience for both drivers and officials, but on scene road traffic crash reconstruction is a necessary requirement. Investigators need to reveal evidence and discover why and how a crash occurred, particularly when personal injury, death, or property damage is involved.

Secondary crashes are the reason many investigators and officers feel rushed to collect evidence and clear a scene quickly, but conventional mapping of a fatal crash can take several hours depending on the severity of the scene.

Lieutenant Robert Hainje, Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Department, explains “With UAV technology, we can shoot a crash scene, for example an 800-foot scene, in a matter of 22 minutes”.

Remote pilots send up their drones taking high-resolution images that are transmitted into a computer and run through a software program that creates highly detailed and accurate 3D diagrams - reducing the time investigators and officers spend on scene, creating a safer roadway for all.

According to a 2017 report by Freedonia group, drone spending by county and municipal government spending for drones, mostly within police, fire, and rescue agencies, is estimated to reach US$80 million by 2025. In addition, the use of drones for emergency services rose by 82% in 2018. (Drone Center, Bard College).

Last updated: 24/07/2019