Fleet News

Case study into a road traffic collision

At Wayman Consultancy the team of independent collision investigators often find themselves instructed in unusual cases. The majority of their work comes from LSC funded instructions although they are seeing a growth in the number of instructions funded by insurance companies. One such case was that of a French lorry driver who was charged with causing death by careless driving. Clearly, this was to be funded by the driver’s insurance company and they were looking for a dual skilled Collision Investigator and Vehicle Examiner to assess all the factors involved.

The collision took place in a busy street in London, and involved a left hand drive, rigid large goods vehicle and a pedestrian crossing the road at a zebra crossing from the driver’s right hand side (i.e. across the cab given the drivers seat position.) Interestingly the pedestrian was struck on the left front corner of the vehicle meaning that she had crossed the majority of the carriageway before the fatal impact.

Wayman Consultancy’s opinion was that there was a requirement to investigate;

  • Time taken for the pedestrian (a pensioner) to cross to the point of impact.
  • The conspicuity of the pedestrian, given that a slower moving object in the peripheral vision is much less obvious.
  • Time taken to slow the vehicle at its weight at the time of collision from varies speeds.
  • The sight lines from the vehicle across the cab given the driver’s weight (this kind of vehicle has an adjustable, air ride seat which sinks when the driver’s weight is applied)
  • Any other vehicle defect that may have caused it to perform below its normal standard.
  • Whether the driver was within his tacograph limits, as fatigue is instrumental in the erosion of awareness.
  • A thorough read of the Police Collision Investigator’s report to establish whether they had considered all the factors.

In order to complete this investigation, the consultant had to travel to France to view the vehicle as well as visit the site of the collision. His vehicle examination concluded that the sight lines from the driver’s seat opened up exponentially, due to perspective, the further away from point of impact the vehicle was sited. Given that microscope analysis of the tacograph identified a speed of no more than 23mph, and that the consultant had been able to calculate deceleration rates under braking, he was able to piece together what was in view from the point where the pedestrian stepped from the pavement to her impact with the vehicle. All of this information was then pieced together in the form of a report, plan, photo album and DVD video footage with the intention of attempting to explain the nuances of a highly technical investigation to a jury.

The outcome for the driver was that in this instance he had made a mistake with the terrible consequence that an old lady had met her untimely end. What had caused the driver to be unaware of the presence of the pedestrian only he will know. From the legal point of view, we were able to advise that he was unlikely to be able to construct a reasonable defence and the insurance company were advised accordingly.

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