Human factors in accident reconstruction

Perception reaction time influences driver response and effects accident reconstruction

To learn more about how perception reaction time influences driver response and effects accident reconstruction, Shane Keller (left) and Geoffrey Walsh of Collision Specialists, Inc. attended “Advanced Crash Reconstruction Utilizing Human Factors Research.”

Perception reaction time answers key accident reconstruction questions

Day/night, intersection/non-intersection, good weather/bad weather: these factors can be critical in accident reconstruction because they influence driver response.

Along with Collision Specialists, Inc. Accident Reconstructionist, Geoffrey Walsh, I went to Evanston, IL to learn more about the research behind these factors. The class, “Advanced Crash Reconstruction Utilizing Human Factors Research,” was held May 19 – 23, 2014 at the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety. The class encompassed background information and the numerous studies that have been conducted to validate perception reaction time:

  • History and foundation of reaction time research
  • Understanding driver response terms and definitions
  • Common causes for response delays
  • Whether weather influences driver response
  • Evaluating a response during nighttime driving
  • Nighttime response scenarios and documenting nighttime crashes
  • Headlight beam analysis
  • Evaluating path intrusion crashes
  • Acceleration rate of drivers
  • Gap acceptance
  • Driver search patterns
  • Driver response to lead vehicles, traffic signals and decision making
  • Effects of fatigue and alcohol
  • Tutorial on IDRR and V*Star software
  • Practical experience (research applications)

Northwestern University Center for Public Safety has excellent courses for the advanced study of accident reconstruction, and this was no exception. The instructor for this class was the nationally recognized expert Dr. Jeffery Muttart of the Crash Safety Research Center. He has conducted research in labs, in the field, and in driving simulators to better understand drivers’ performance.

By attending this course, we learned how to calculate perception reaction time of a driver, common causes of response delays, how weather influences driver response, nighttime response scenarios, path intrusions, and gap acceptances. These are valuable tools as we continue to expand our knowledge in the practice of accident reconstruction.

About the author

Timothy Shane Keller | Collision Specialists, Inc. | Gainesville GAShane Keller began his law enforcement career with the City of Atlanta Police Department in 1997. In 2003, Mr. Keller was assigned to the Special Operations Section, Hit and Run/Traffic Fatality Unit.

To date, Mr. Keller has investigated over 1500 collisions to include the reconstruction of over 100 serious injury and fatal collisions. He is certified as a Field Training Officer and a Crash Data Retrieval Technician/Analyst.

Mr. Keller has completed nearly 700 course hours of training in the field of accident reconstruction and has been recognized as an expert in the field of accident reconstruction.

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