ITE Journal July 2018 - 39

Incident management teams train first responders to reduce
clearance times.2 Since 2009, Indiana has promoted the use of
photogrammetry to reduce crash investigation times. Unmanned
Aircraft System (UAS) can likely further reduce the time required
to accurately document crash scene geometry.
The objective of this paper is to evaluate the application
of a consumer-grade UAS, costing approximately $2000, to
construct ortho-rectified images of a staged crash scene and
assess the spatial accuracy of the ortho-rectified images. A
detailed field procedure for scene preparation, establishment
of control, and data acquisition is provided. A simplified
mission design table and concepts are provided for use by
public safety officials.

(a) View of three involved vehicles

Literature Review
As incident duration increases, the likelihood of a secondary
incident also increases, which, in turn, increases the incident
duration and likelihood of additional crashes. There has been a
nationwide effort in recent years to improve and communicate
best practices for incident clearance. Total stations have been
used in incident management for decades. One early study
found that the use of total stations saved on average 51 minutes
and was safer for responders compared to traditional methods.3
However, at the time of this study (1992), total stations could
be cost prohibitive and result accuracy was affected by weather
conditions. Another study found that the number of measurements taken doubled and the time to collect data decreased by
33 percent when using total stations.4 More recently, Ardestani
et. al. proposed a prototype UAV system and developed 3D
models of a staged incident using video and 2D images.5 Liu et.
al. also used 2D imagery of a staged crash scene collected from a
UAV to generate a 3D model.6 Examples of ortho-rectification of
photos obtained from UAS for crash scene documentation were
published by He et. al.7-10

Staged Crash Scene
To provide a controlled experiment for evaluating spatial
accuracy and documenting field procedures, a crash scene was
staged at a three-way intersection with a single stop sign for
the northbound approach (Figure 1). In this staged crash, the
pick-up truck pulled out in front of the Sport Utility Vehicle
(SUV) to take a left turn. Purdue Police officers created the skid
marks to provide additional features for the staged crash scene.
Purdue Police crash reconstruction specialists marked the start
and end of the skid marks, which are labelled as callouts 'i' and
'ii' in Figure 1. Callout 'iii' identifies the SUV associated with
the skid marks. A third vehicle was placed on the northern side
of the intersection next to a downed sign, as if the driver had
swerved to avoid the two vehicles that collided in front of it.

(b) Start and end locations of skid marks marked with paint
Figure 1. Staged crash scene.

Field Procedures
It is important to clearly define the field procedure for use at real
incident scenes. Below is an enumerated list of the general steps for
using UAS to document a crash scene. These steps assume that a
consumer-grade UAS is available to the crash investigator.
1. Safely secure the scene. The safety of responders, involved
individuals, and the traveling public should always be first and
foremost. In the case of this staged incident, which was on a low
volume, low-speed road, a single marked police vehicle with
flashing red and blue lights was parked upstream of the involved
vehicles (Figure 2a).
w w w .i t e.o r g

J u ly 2018

39


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ITE Journal July 2018

ITE Journal July 2018 - Cover1
ITE Journal July 2018 - Cover2
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ITE Journal July 2018 - 5
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ITE Journal July 2018 - Cover3
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