Use Pre-drawn Symbols For Faster Diagrams Photogrammetry Proves Ideal for Winter Crash Scene Mapping Defending Your Scene Diagrams in Court Crash Animation Now Available To All Investigators The Crash Zone – Crash Scene Drawing Software Motorcycle Officer Maps Crash Scenes
Use Pre-drawn Symbols For Faster Diagrams Instead of trying to draw that vehicle or sign found at the scene, you can save hours of time by using a diagramming program that includes pre-drawn symbols. The Crash Zone contains thousands of pre-drawn symbols that are ready to use.
Photogrammetry Proves Ideal for Winter Crash Scene Mapping During a December snow storm, Trooper Jeffrey Westrum of the Minnesota State Patrol, chooses the iWitness photogrammetry program and Crash Zone to map a fatal crash scene.
Defending Your Scene Diagrams in Court Your diagrams of the scene are an important part of your investigation and you want to make sure you can prove they are completely accurate. How can you ensure that your methodology and your diagrams will stand up in court?
Crash Animation Now Available To All Investigators Animations of the events surrounding a crash have long been recognized as a powerful tool in court cases, but they were expensive to produce. With The Crash Zone, every Investigator can now produce accurate, realistic, 2D and 3D animations.
The Crash Zone – Crash Scene Drawing Software Whether they like it or not, Police officers, Crash Investigators and Reconstructionists need to draw. The Crash Zone drawing software is the ideal tool for Crash Investigators and Reconstructionists who want great 2D and 3D diagrams.
Motorcycle Officer Maps Crash Scenes Sgt. Naccarato of the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Department used Pocket Zone, data collection software, on a handheld PC to create an innovative, portable, crash scene mapping system that fits neatly in his motorcycle box.

Using an Animation or Simulation? Be prepared to defend it!

If you want to use an animation or simulation in a courtroom to show what you believed happened in a crash, make sure it is completely based on the evidence. Software programs can easily be used to create a movie that is not based on facts and is not even physically possible. Simulations of cars flying off a road and spinning out of control may look impressive, but only if the vehicle’s path can be completely validated by the evidence that was found at the scene.

Since crash reconstruction is far from being a new science, you may think your presentations will automatically be accepted in court. However, as recently as May 2013, in a case brought before the Montana Supreme Court, an attorney argued that the testimony of a Crash Reconstruction Expert Witness “…was so utterly lacking in foundation that it should never have seen the light of day in the courtroom.”(1)

In this case, the reconstructionist had created a simulation in Engineering Dynamics Corporation’s HVE program using measurements he took at the scene and information in the Montana Highway Patrol’s report. He was able to explain all of the physical information used as input variables in the simulation and his testimony was ultimately accepted. While it is possible to get a crash simulation or animation accepted in court, you must be prepared to justify all of the input provided to the software, or risk having your presentation thrown out. 

Crash Reconstructionist Uses Animations In Courtroom Presentations

The use of 3D crash diagrams and animations can make a huge difference in presenting the details of a crash, especially in the courtroom. Lorne Starks, retired from the LAPD and a veteran crash reconstructionist, investigates crashes all over the country.  The members of his California-based firm, D&S Investigations, have collectively investigated over 30,000 traffic collisions and have reconstructed and provided opinions on more than 8000 traffic collisions. He finds that deploying animations is an ideal way to explain the events of a crash.

Starks has given expert testimony in more than 275 court cases involving traffic accident reconstruction, accident causation, damage analysis, and collision factors. He knows what evidence to look for at a crash scene and how it must be depicted in a diagram and animation. Given his lengthy experience investigating crash scenes and offering court testimony, what does he see are his biggest challenges? “Most of them have to do with measurements and physical evidence,” Starks said. “We find most reports we get do not document enough of the physical evidence. The challenge we have is trying to come up with different points of impact or different types of physical evidence such as skid marks, gouges, and the point of rest. This can be difficult, especially at a busy intersection” Starks said.

When he finally gets to a crash scene to be investigated, the scene could be a couple of weeks to a year old. “When we get out there, we rely a lot on photographs, and then you’re looking at reference points in the roadway—a crack or a painted line—and from there we can measure and document debris and physical evidence.”

Crash Animation Now Available To All Investigators

Traditionally, 3D animations, or movies, of the events surrounding a crash were recognized as a powerful tool to help present a case in court. However, they were so expensive to produce that they were only feasible for high-profile cases where big budgets were involved. Recently, the development of easy-to-use, accurate, software for creating animations has changed all that. It is now possible for every crash investigator to produce animations of a crash, based on the evidence they found at the scene.

Just ask Bobby Jones, Assistant Chief of the Knox County-Knoxville, Tennessee Sheriff’s Office, and a trained reconstructionist. Jones feels that animations are an important part of his courtroom presentations. Says Jones, “We’ll always need to have a static diagram to get a start (for presenting crash scene details). However, a jury these days can comprehend animation, and the retention is significantly higher than words and diagrams.” Also, Jones adds, “Anytime we can illustrate in motion, we capture the attention of the jury because juries are typically inclined to want to see technology.”

Jones uses The CAD Zone, Inc.’s Crash Zone diagramming software, one of the most popular and widely used forensic drawing software packages on the market. With The Crash Zone he can create his 2D diagrams, incorporating all the exact measurements he takes at the scene. The program contains easy-to-use tools for creating the 3D model and animations of the crash from any viewpoint.

The Crash Zone – Crash Scene Drawing Software

Whether they like it or not, Law Enforcement officers, Crash Investigators and Reconstructionists need to draw. They usually have many other things they would rather spend their time doing, but having an accurate, neat diagram of the crash scene is critical to their investigation.

Crash Zone 3D crash scene diagram

3D Crash Scene drawn with The Crash Zone

The Crash Zone drawing software (The Crash Zone web page) is the ideal tool for Crash Investigators and Reconstructionists who want great diagrams. It is easy to learn and use because it has many unique features that are specifically for drawing crashes. It’s NOT for engineers or architects or someone drawing a house floor plan. The Crash Zone is ONLY for drawing crash scenes.

Pocket PC Data Collector Ideal for Mapping Crash Scenes

Pocket Zone data collector

Pocket Zone on a TDS Recon

There is plenty for the investigator to do at the scene of a major crash, not the least which involves taking many precise measurements of vehicle locations, debris, skid marks, and other evidence. These measurements are critical in reconstructing the crash and creating the detailed diagrams of the scene that may become part of a courtroom presentation. In years past, taking and recording all the necessary measurements could require multiple officers and take hours of time, resulting in long road closures.

One advantage investigators have today is the availability of laser measurement systems and total stations that can streamline the process of taking these measurements. The Pocket Zone™, data collection software, is used by the officer to capture all the measurements at the scene. Back at the office, the 3D point coordinates are uploaded into The Crash Zone™,crash scene drawing software, where the final diagram is completed. This technology greatly speeds up the process of mapping a crash and diagramming the scene. Some equipment can even be operated by a single officer.

Crash and Crime Scene Diagrams Are Obsolete – Right?

Investigators today are being bombarded with talk of point clouds, fly-throughs, animations, orthrectified images, and simulations. Since a crash or crime scene can just be “scanned” and recorded as a point cloud, some sales people will say that’s all an investigator needs to present in court. Just present the jury with a fly-through of the point cloud or show them a simulation and there is no need to create those old-fashioned diagrams any longer, right?


Turn Your Measurements Into Diagrams

Sometimes a quick sketch on the back of a napkin is good enough, but that’s just not going to work if you are investigating a crash or crime scene. When you’re preparing a case, especially one that may end up being presented in court, you need diagrams and animations that depict an accurate representation of the scene.  You may spend a great deal of time at the scene taking measurements and documenting every detail. What is the best way to turn those measurements into accurate diagrams?

The Crash Zone and The Crime Zone have more ways than any other program to accurately turn your measurements into 2D diagrams, 3D models, and animations. Whether you are taking measurements manually with a tape measure, shooting points with a total station, or using a 3D laser scanner, you can create courtroom-ready case materials that you know are completely accurate.

Summit County Sheriff Deputies map a crash scene with their total station.

Measurements From Laser and GPS Devices

Many crash and crime scene investigators now have access to a total station or other laser measurement devices, like those available from Laser Technology, Inc. These devices normally take special training to learn to use, but they allow you to collect measurements of a scene much faster and more accurately than you can with manual methods. While collecting and recording accurate measurements is critical, you still need an easy way to turn those measurements into a 2D or 3D diagram and maybe even into a 3D animation.

Upgrade Your Court Presentations With Animation

If you’ve ever wondered if it’s worth the additional expense to upgrade your crash scene diagramming software, one expert responds, “Absolutely.” That expert is Bobby Jones of Bobby Jones Reconstruction of Knoxville, Tenn. For more than 25 years, Jones has been a trained crash reconstructionist and crime scene investigator, providing his expertise to private law firms, major trucking firms, insurance and government agencies, County Sheriffs, the State of Tennessee, and to prosecution and criminal defense clients.

The Crash Zone Includes Easy-to-Use Animation Tools

A major reason that Jones suggests upgrading your diagramming software is to get the animation features now offered in some software. Jones has been a longtime user of The Crash Zone, diagramming software from The CAD Zone, Inc. ( ) of Beaverton, Oregon. The Crash Zone is widely used among law enforcement professionals and crash scene investigators. It allows users to create realistic 2D and 3D diagrams of scenes. The latest version of The Crash Zone also features the ability to quickly create 2D and 3D animations of objects that are based on your exact measurements.