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Avoiding Collisions - The Thought Process


When asked to evaluate the evasion potential for drivers involved in collisions, our engineers address three main questions. First, when did the driver or drivers become aware of the hazard (e.g. animal crossing the highway, debris on the roadway, or another vehicle crossing the centerline)? Second, did the driver or drivers respond appropriately? Third, at what speeds or with what vehicle maneuvers would the driver have avoided the collision?

It can be difficult to determine exactly when, during the time leading up to a collision, the driver became aware of the impending hazard. However, clues to driver awareness can often be found in roadway markings leading up to the collision location. Evidence of evasive manoeuvers, such as skid marks caused by braking, can signal driver awareness of the hazard. These indications can be combined with other collision circumstances (e.g. intersection visibility, time of day, sight limitations, or visual distractions) to identify when a driver would have perceived the problem ahead.

Once the point of first perception is identified, our engineers can assess whether the driver reacted appropriately. Did the driver have manoeuvering options that could have avoided the collision? Could the driver have steered rather than braked, or braked rather than steered? What other alternatives were available? With motorcycle drivers the question is often related to when the driver laid down the bike. Could the collision have been avoided if the driver had stayed upright?

The final area of inquiry is the determination of whether a different speed or alternate vehicle maneouvers would have avoided the collision altogether.  Our clients often ask us to establish if the driver was travelling in excess of posted speed limits and, if so, whether the collision would been prevented or the severity of the collision significantly affected if the driver had been driving at the speed limit.  Our clients also ask if a different avoidance response on the part of the driver would have averted the collision.

The objective of an evasion potential analysis is to explore the many "What if?" questions that often arise from a severe motor vehicle collision.  By addressing these questions through the application of sound engineering principles, Sintra Engineering can provide valuable information about the collision circumstances and greatly assist in investigations of liability.


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