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Heavy Truck Accident Reconstruction


Commercial vehicle accidents have distinctive technical characteristics due to the wide variety in configuration, size and weight of these vehicles, fundamentally different mechanical systems, and increasingly available electronic data unique to commercial vehicles. Exponent's heavy-truck team consists of engineers and scientists with the knowledge and experience to provide an inter-disciplinary investigation and analysis of multi-faceted heavy-truck accidents. We are trained in the methods and principles that apply to all vehicle accidents, and our engineers have broad experience in using specialized techniques that are unique to reconstructing crash events involving large commercial vehicles. Exponent analyzes single- and multiple-vehicle accidents of all types and investigates the roles of the operator, the environment, and the characteristics of specific vehicles in such accidents.

Accident Reconstruction

Exponent’s accident reconstruction engineers reach reliable and supportable conclusions by applying scientific principles to evaluate all the available facts and evidence. We are educated and experienced in the analysis of heavy truck dynamics, including collisions, rollovers, jackknifes/yaw stability, handling, braking, and accelerating. Along with traditional analytical reconstruction methods such as conservation of momentum and energy, Exponent engineers utilize state-of-the-art computer simulations to model heavy trucks and reliably re-create accident conditions and results.

Rapid Response

We are prepared to provide a rapid response to truck accidents, both to preserve the physical evidence and to provide an initial assessment to the client. Team members are trained to systematically document accident site conditions and vehicle evidence, paying specific attention to the data that are critical to the analysis of heavy-vehicle accidents and the issues that inevitably arise. Our engineers use state-of-the-art techniques to document site and vehicle physical evidence, including total station technology, photogrammetry, and other reliable methods of evidence collection and measurement.

ECM and EDR Data

Exponent engineers possess the technology and knowledge to retrieve and analyze data from various Event Data Recorders (EDRs), including Electronic Control Modules (ECMs) on heavy-truck engines, as well as airbag and powertrain control modules in automobiles and light trucks.

Mechanical Systems Analysis

Our engineers have the expertise and specialized training required to inspect and analyze the mechanical systems of heavy vehicles in the field, both to review their compliance with state and federal regulations and to assess the effect of mechanical condition on the vehicle’s performance. If further investigation is required, Exponent has the facilities and expertise to conduct detailed testing and analysis of truck systems and components, including brakes, steering, suspension, tires and wheels, powertrain, and stability control.

Full-Scale Vehicle Testing

In cases where full-scale heavy vehicle testing is required, Exponent has the facilities, professional staff, and experience to reliably and efficiently accomplish the task. Our Test and Engineering Center (TEC) in Phoenix, Arizona is the setting for Exponent’s most technically challenging and complex tests. The 147-acre test facility includes a two-mile oval track, durability course, 10-acre skid pad, and a 1,200-foot crash rail, allowing engineers to study vehicle handling and performance, understand the effect of component failure on controllability, and re-create collisions under nearly any conditions.

Our services include:

  • Accident reconstruction
  • ECM downloads and data analysis
  • Automobile EDR downloads and data analysis
  • Analysis of medium- and heavy-truck dynamics
  • Computer simulation
  • Air-brake system analysis
  • Vehicle pre-trip safety inspections
  • Electronic stability control system analysis
  • Full-scale crash tests and handling demonstrations
  • Biomechanical and injury analysis
  • Occupant kinematics analysis
  • Low-speed impact and injury analysis
  • Heavy-truck crashworthiness and restraint systems
  • Toxicology
  • Human factors analysis
  • Nighttime visibility, perception/reaction, and conspicuity analysis
  • Fire investigation
  • Metallurgy and structural analysis
  • Risk analysis
  • TEC
  • Computer animation and graphics
  • Commercial vehicle environmental and hazardous material procedures evaluation