Advanced Forensic Engineering Analysis of a School Bus/Tractor-Trailer Crash

Article Author: Richard M. Ziernicki, PhD, PE (NAFE 308F), William H. Pierce, PE (NAFE 846C), and Angelos G. Leiloglou, M. Arch. (NAFE 956C)

Volume: 33
Volume #: 1
Month: June
Year: 2016

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This paper presents advanced techniques used to reconstruct a motor vehicle accident involving a fully loaded tractor-trailer and school bus with 30 young students. The accident investigation included analysis of the physical evidence using photogrammetry and high-definition laser scanning, application of engine control module (ECM) and global positioning system (GPS) data, and analyzing onboard video footage from the bus. Momentum-based crash simulation software (PC-Crash) was used to simulate the accident. The simulation data was compared with National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) data and with the onboard bus video footage. Further, rigid-body kinematic equations were used to determine occupant kinematics (velocities) and dynamics (accelerations). Multiple graphics are used to demonstrate the accident reconstruction and occupant kinematics and dynamics.


School bus, tractor-trailer, on-board video, photo-match, rigid-body kinematics, PC-Crash, point clouds, photogrammetry, high-definition scanning, interactive animation, event data recorder