How an Accident Reconstruction Conference Can Change Your Future

By Frank J. Hahnel III, Oct. 27, 2014
Throughout the year, accident reconstruction conferences take place all over the country. These events provide an opportunity to learn the latest in investigative and reconstructive techniques, highlight the technology available, allow the time to test tool accuracy, and offer the occasion to network with peers. If your agency has yet to attend one of these events, I encourage you to go. One participant at a recent crash conference in East Peoria, Ill., told local reporters, “It’s the highlight of the year for those of us in Illinois who reconstruct vehicle crashes. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

Laser Scanning Captures Interest

As a trusted solution provider to the public safety and law enforcement community, Leica Geosystems is often invited to exhibit, to map pre- and post-crash scenes, and to conduct educational sessions during accident reconstruction conferences. In September alone, I represented Leica’s Public Safety Group at three of these events, demonstrating the Leica ScanStation PS20, the Leica Viva TS15 reflectorless robotic total station, and the Leica Viva GS15 RTK GPS unit.
No matter where I go, the laser scanner always stimulates interest, enthusiasm and even excitement. High-definition 3D laser scanning is the future for law enforcement, and rightly so. It’s the fastest and the most comprehensive way to document crash scenes with high, verifiable accuracy. For crash investigators and re-constructionists, this translates into significantly reducing roadway closure times, as compared to conventional methods.
Not too long ago, people might have come up saying they’ve never seen a laser scanner before. In the last few years, however, public safety agencies have been made aware of the technology and its practical applications, and for those agencies searching for more definitive answers, reconstruction conferences provide me the opportunity to answer their questions (from the basics of how the scanner works, through how to create a courtroom presentation). For agencies looking to implement laser scanning, the conferences afford me the additional opportunity of directing them toward Leica’s superior scanning products.

Evaluating Technology and Point Cloud Data

In addition to demonstrating the equipment and fielding questions, I have the chance to see Leica Geosystems’ clients implement systems they’ve purchased. This was the case at the Illinois Association of Technical Accident Investigators’ annual conference in September. The Illinois State Police Department deployed its Leica ScanStation C10* and Leica Viva TS15 to document a staged, angled-approach collision between two passenger vehicles.
I also scanned a vehicle with the Leica ScanStation PS20 and showed the point cloud data in MapScenes Forensic CAD 2013, featuring crash investigation tools such as collision analysis and animation. Attendees are always impressed with the fact that the laser scanner delivers a photorealistic image or point cloud dataset of the crash scene, that the dataset is entirely 3D, and that the point cloud is measurable, providing acutely accurate data. At the end of each crash conference, the scan data is provided to attendees to take back to their respective offices where they can download Leica Cyclone’s free viewer mode and review the 3D point cloud data at their leisure. 

Exploring Complete and Accurate Scene Documentation

Every year that goes by, we here at the Leica Geosystems Public Safety Group are actively working to raise awareness of the benefits of laser scanning technology for law enforcement. We’re visiting multiple agencies throughout the United States, educating and consulting with the officers working scenes, and travelling to a variety of shows where we demonstrate and offer further education regarding the technology.
If your agency has yet to attend an event, I encourage you to go. It may not only be the highlight of your year but also the incentive your agency needs to adopt the fastest, most comprehensive and highly accurate way to document crash and crime scenes.
For more information on 3D laser scanning for accident investigation and reconstruction, or to find out when we’ll be at an event in your area, please contact us.
*The ScanStation C10 is equivalent to the ScanStation PS10.
Frank HahnelAbout the Author: Frank J. Hahnel, III has been laser scanning since 2000 and is an expert in the use of Leica 3D laser scanning systems. He has worked with multiple state and local law enforcement agencies and private accident investigation and reconstruction firms, helping them to scan, to process and to reconstruct active accident and crime scenes. After the September 11th terrorist attacks, he aided the Army Corps of Engineers at Ground Zero in New York and the FBI at the Pentagon. He then assisted the NYPD and FBI with the laser scanning of the debris piles from Ground Zero at the Fresh Kills Landfill, the story of which was published in Professional Surveyor Magazine in 2011. He is a member of the International Association for Identification, International Association for Counterterrorism & Security Professionals, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the National Association of Professional Accident Reconstruction Specialists, Inc.

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