Troopers Learn To Use Laser For Crash Probes

Tuesday, March 11th 2008, 6:35 pm
By: News On 6

Troopers work to piece together the puzzle of highway accidents.   News On 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright reports Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers are now using lasers to map out crash scenes.  The technology is quicker, more accurate and makes it possible to create computer animations and re-creations of exactly what happened.

So many times, victims of a crash can't tell troopers what happened.  Reconstructing a crash is a complex and detailed process that involves physics and geometry and doing all that is now a whole lot better, thanks to laser technology.

Troopers perform a stop and slide in every accident reconstruction, not just to measure skid marks but to also determine how the road's surface, whether asphalt, grass or gravel, interact with the vehicle's tires, which is called an F factor.  The troopers in this advanced investigation class are learning about that and much more.

"We treat each scene as a crime scene. That's what a collision is many times, a traffic crime, as horrific as manslaughter or as trivial as following too close or failing to yield," said OHP Lt. George Brown.

Part of the training is to get hands-on experience with the new laser measuring system.

The measurements can easily be downloaded into a computer, which can then create a scaled design of the scene.  The laser was used in Monday's fatal crash of a family in Pryor.  And that means the results are available much more quickly.

Plus, troopers can create animations to show juries where cars started, how far and fast they went and why they ended up where they did.

"The laser these guys will use is accurate up to a millimeter in a crash scene and sometimes a millimeter counts and makes the difference in a manslaughter or negligent homicide scene," said OHP Lt. George Brown.

You realize just how critical this type of training is when you learn there are more than 75,000 crashes in Oklahoma each year and more than 700 people die in those crashes.

The Advanced Accident Reconstruction Class will last four weeks.  There are similar classes being held in McAlester and Durant.

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