Engineers stage car crashes to learn more about how they happen

Caught on Camera

POSTED: Saturday, May 12, 2012 - 2:00pm

UPDATED: Saturday, May 12, 2012 - 2:04pm

To learn how to reconstruct traffic crashes after the fact, you have to actually see one.

Engineers, scientists and crash investigators junked four vehicles during two controlled crashes in Fort Worth, Texas on Thursday.

The Texas Association of Accident Reconstruction Specialists and the University of Tulsa brought the group together.

They studied techniques and tested some new software that make it easier for investigators to make sense of a crash they could not see in person.

"It's pretty cool," said Terry Day, who works for Engineering Dynamics Corp. "If you're into physics and math and you like puzzles, it just doesn't get any better."

The company creates software that projects how the accident might have happened once variables such as speed and weight are entered.

Crash investigator Nigel McDonald traveled to Texas from his home in Australia because controlled simulations are rare.

"These sorts of crash tests and the experience we're gaining from them are invaluable in being able to prove that what we can apply in theory from the science reflects and what actually happens out there on the roads," he said.

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