The Traffic Accident Reconstruction Origin -Approach Angles Problem-

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A Rainy Day Collision


This collision occurred on a winter afternoon. Two vehicles are involved. One driver received critical injury and died the following day. The other driver received minor injury. Six passengers were involved. Their injuries ranged from minor to serious.

Weather Conditions

At the time of the collision the following observations were recorded at the weather bureau, located 11 miles east of the crash. It was four hours before sunset. Skys were cloudy with light rain and the temperature was 57 degrees. The winds were out of the northwest at 12 M/H. All involved in the accident reported a steady rain was falling at the scene at the time of the collision.


This collision occurred in the intersection of Through St, and Dead End Rd. Both roads were of asphalt construction with no significant grade or superelevation. They met at essentially a right angle, with Through St. running north and south, and Dead End Rd. running east and west. This intersection was the western end of Dead End Rd. The rads formed a "T".

Traffic Control

Through St. was posted with a speed limit of 45 M/H. It was striped with reflectorized painted center markings and fog lines. Dead End Rd, on the other hand, was both unposted and unpainted. There was a stop sign posted for traffic approaching Through St. on Dead End Rd. Vehicles traveling north and south on Through St. had the right of way within the intersection.

Ford Aerostar

One involved vehicle was a 1993 Ford Aerostar van (VIN/1FMCA11U7PZBnnnnn). It was teal in color and equipped with passive three point lap shoulder belts for both front seat occupants. The driver was also supplied with an airbag.

The van was driven and owned by John Barbera. He was familiar with it. Mr. Barbera was a 73-year-old male who resided at 200 Dead End Rd. This address was less than .2 miles from the collision location. He was licensed by the state and was reportedly wearing the restraint available to him. The van was found with the airbag deployed. He was transported from the scene by ambulance and admitted to the hospital. Mr. Barbera died in the hospital the following evening.

The drivers autopsy revealed:

The medical examiner ruled the cause of death as blunt chest trauma.

Terri Barbera, the driver's wife, was seated in the right front seat of the Aerostar. She was a 66-year-old female who lived on Dead End Rd. with her husband. Mrs. Barbera states she was not wearing her lap-shoulder belt. Her most obvious injury was a lacerated area on her right forehead. She was transported to the hospital by ambulance. She remained in the hospital for several days before being released.

Ford F150

The second vehicle was a 1988 Ford F150 short bed 4x2 pickup truck (VIN/1FTDF15N8JNAnnnnn). It was black in color. The truck was equipped with some aftermarket accessories: a 3" body lift, aftermarket wheels, aftermarket tires (33 x 12.50 x 15LT), traction bars and coil-over helper springs.

The pick up was driven by John Duffy, a 17-year-old licensed male. Mr. Duffy was familiar with both his truck and intended route. He was not wearing the restraint available to him.

The front bench seat of the pick up truck was filled with five of Mr. Duffy's friends. They ranged in age from 15 to 18 years old. None of them wore any restraints. Their injuries ranged from a complaint of injury to lacerations that required treatment. All occupants of the pickup were transported to the hospital. All were treated and released.

Summary of Witness Statements

All drivers and passengers agreed the F150 was originally northbound on Through St. The Aerostar was originally westbound on Dead End Rd. Some witnesses say the Aerostar stopped at its stop sign. Others say it never stopped prior to entering the intersection. There was no disagreement that the Aerostar was in the process of turning south onto Through St. when it was struck in the side by the F150. The driver of the Aerostar states the pick up was traveling at a high rate of speed.

Immediately after the collision, the driver and all five of the passengers exited the pickup truck. One of them states he took a few steps toward the middle of the road then collapsed in pain. After falling to the ground he was astonished to hear the engine on the Aerostar begin to race. He looked up to see the van coming toward him. He had to scramble to keep from being run over.

This event is confirmed by Mrs. Barbera. She states after the van came to rest, she and her husband had a short conversation. Then, in an attempt to reposition himself he mistakenly stepped on the accelerator. The van accelerated across the road and struck a tree.

Physical Evidence

Both vehicles were available for examination. They were photographed and the damage measured. Those measurements are available in the exhibits below.

Description of damage to F150

The pickup displayed one major exterior contact face. That contact was to the left front. It involved the front bumper (left of center), the grill, the left front headlamp/turn signal assembly, the hood, the left front fender, the left frame rail, and the evaporator. The direction for this force was rearward and to the drivers left.

Induced damage associated with this contact was noted to the radiator support, the airbox, the windshield wiper fluid reservoir, both inner fenders, the hood, both front fenders, the right frame rail, and the left vent window. The effect of this damage was to offset the front clip to the drivers left.

There was evidence to support occupant contact with the interior of the truck. There were three separate windshield contacts. One was to the left of the steering wheel. The steering wheel was bent over. The long floor mounted shift lever was broken at its base.

Description of Damage to Aerostar

The Aerostar showed one primary contact face. That damage was to the left side of the van. It involved the driver's door, the left side sheet metal, the wiring harness that runs down the left side of the van, and the left rear wheel. The direction for this force was inward and slightly rearward. Note: Prior to photographs, the tires on this vehicle were swapped around by the wrecker driver to ease its removal from the scene.

The second area of contact was to the front of the van. Near the left end of the bumper was a tree impression. Bark still adhered to this embossed arc in the bumper. This tree contact also damaged the left headlight assembly, and induced damage to the hood.

There was interior damage to the Aerostar. The driver's airbag was deployed. The B-pillar and rear door jamb were in contact with the drivers seat. This damage to the B-pillar trapped the belt between the seat and B-pillar, preventing the retractor from tensioning the belt. Significantly, this belt remained at a wearable length. There was a single interior windshield contact. This contact was right of center.

Evidence on the Roadway

There was no tiremark evidence on the roadway to locate the vehicles at approach, impact or rest. The second rest location of the Aerostar was located by matching the tree scar to the damage on the front of the van. The rest location of the F150 was established by matching terrain detail available after the collision with a newspaper photograph taken shortly after the accident. Those positions are available in the scene maps below.


The accuracy reported for these scale scene diagrams is correct. The accuracy on the scaled vehicle damage is much better than that reported for the scene in general. The diagramed damage to the vehicles can be assumed to be exact.

Download a 30 Kb scaled .GIF drawing of the scene

Download a 31 Kb scaled GIF drawing of the vehicle damage

(These .gif drawings require a program like Paint Shop Pro in order to view and print the diagrams.)

Download a 275 Kb dxf CAD file the scene (In order to shorten file transfer time this CAD drawing has been stripped of all unnecessary fills, line weights, depths and layers. This .DXF drawing requires a CAD program like AutoCAD or Generic Cad to view, print, or work with the diagram.)

Download 4- 30 Kb .gif scene photos

Download a 68 Kb .gif photo of F150 damage at the scene Photo courtesy of Bob Markey II

Download 88 Kb .gif photo of Aerostar damage

Download 125 Kb .gif photo of Aerostar damage

Download 94 Kb .gif photo of Aerostar interior damage

Download 117 Kb .gif photo of Aerostar interior damage

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