Effective mid-2011 IE Services can now access the 'black-box' data of certain late-model vehicles, including the VE Holden Commodore. Stay tuned for further details as testing across a range of vehicles is performed.

Case Studies

Slippery When Dry

A driver rounding a bend encountered a turning vehicle in his lane and despite braking heavily failed to stop prior to striking the other vehicle. He was subsequently charged with careless driving causing injury. The case against him stated that he was driving significantly above the speed limit and/or failed to react to the other vehicle appropriately.

IE Services reviewed the file, researched the crash site history and performed on-site testing. Findings included:

  • Site crash records revealed a consistent history of crashes with poor line of sight noted as a likely contributory factor.
  • On-site testing revealed that the limited sight distances in conjunction with a road surface with excessive bitumen-bleed created a hazardous environment.
  • Weather records indicated that unusually warm mid-summer weather had persisted for the three days prior to the crash.

The IE Services report concluded that the conditions at the time of the incident were conducive to bituplaning, a phenomenon similar to aquaplaning but which occurs when sufficient energy is generated during braking to briefly melt the bitumen binder of the road surface, resulting in the vehicle’s tyres sliding across an unexpectedly low-grip environment.

The Court found the charge of careless driving causing injury to be unproven.

Further reading: Bullas, J. Slippery when Dry - Low dry friction and binder rich road surfaces. International Conference on Surface Friction, Christchurch, New Zealand, May, 2005.

How Much Does a House Weigh?

A contractor shifting a house was charged with numerous excess weight violations. Examination of the file by IE Services revealed serious errors in the weighing methodology used to assess the axle loadings resulting in incorrect loads attributed to each wheel-set of the combination.

The mass distribution of the load was calculated and the likely resultant axle loadings were determined by IE Services.

Prior to Court the opposing experts discussed their findings, resulting in all charges relating to excess weight being withdrawn.

In Brief

  • Computer simulation using advanced dynamics modelling software was employed by IE Services to determine how the deceased fell down a flight of stairs – was he pushed or did he fall? The results indicated that a number of scenarios tendered by witnesses were inconsistent with the injuries incurred by the deceased.
  • Injury correlation performed by IE Services can provide the Court with essential information relating to injury causation mechanics. In a recent case the Court found the most likely mechanism of a fatal injury resulting from a vehicle-pedestrian collision to be contrary to that initially tendered by opposing experts, instead favouring the scenario submitted by Dr Tim Stevenson of IE Services.
  • In a Civil matter, an insurance assessor stated categorically that a component failure on an agricultural tractor resulted from defective materials. Component testing by IE Services revealed that this assessment was incorrect.

  • An allegation of a speed of a utility vehicle was found to overly optimistic by the Court. Vehicle testing performed by IE Services in conjunction with an analysis of travel distance versus speed, including the effects of a partial head wind which was present at the time of the incident, indicated that the alleged speed was almost certainly not possible under the circumstances.
  • IE Services received a request to evaluate and explain a vehicle crash which resulted in a fatal occupant ejection. Using the survey data of the crash scene it was possible to determine the linear and rotational motion of the vehicle and the resultant forces applied to the occupants. The IE Services report on the crash explained why the forces acting on the front seat occupants were much less severe than those acting on the fatally injured rear seat occupant.
  • When relying on black box data make sure the box in question came from the incident vehicle. The vehicle VIN number is encoded into the permanent memory of the black box. When black box data is used in Court the raw output from the black box should be disclosed as evidence so that any VIN discrepancies are immediately apparent.