Police Learn from Car Crash Demonstration, Minnesota Drivers

Updated: 06/11/2014 9:52 PM
Created: 06/11/2014 8:36 PM
By: Beth McDonough

Accident Reconstruction experts from all over the Midwest are in the Twin Cities to test the latest technology and their know how.  

Smash ups happen nearly 13,000 times a year in St. Paul. In a controlled crash test Wednesday, one car drives as fast as it can into a parked car on a closed course. No one is in either car, so no one's hurt. Only the vehicles are damaged. 

The St. Paul Police Department, a leader in accident reconstruction, put on the demonstration and said there's a point to the impact.

"We use this information to evaluate the severity of these collisions," said Sgt. Greg Gravesen, a St. Paul Police Officer and accident reconstruction expert. 

The folks watching the wreck are officers, troopers and deputies from 13 states. They're here to sharpen their skills and use what they learn to help the rest of us. 

The focus is on the car's EDR. Ninty-six percent of all cars on Minnesota roads have an event data recorder.

"It's an objective witness, it has no bone in this fight between owners of the cars," said Richard Ruth, an EDR expert. 

"We can go back 5 seconds prior to a collision to get things like traveling speed, whether the vehicle had breaks on or off," said Gravesen. It an also tell if seat belts were used, air bags deployed or if there was some other mechanical issue.

That was the claim of Carlos Colorado. He was the driver who hit two high school students waiting for a school bus, killing one of them. Police proved him wrong. Colorado was convicted of vehicular homicide.

"It helps the family and prevents a person from making allegation that can't be supported," Graveson said.

EDR's not only incriminate, they clear drivers too.

When officers block off roads, put down markers, collect data, they know it's frustrating for others on the road. However it's necessary to determine if anyone was at fault, if there's criminal liability or insurance claim.  Some people take car accident cases to court.

Photo: KSTP/ Beth McDonough
Photo: KSTP/ Beth McDonough

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