In this Issue:

Live Subject Testing

Who Had the Right-of-Way?

Hours of Service - Final Rule Update

This Issue's Toolbox Feature - Ingenuity in Testing


In the past year, ATA Associates has conducted three separate vehicle accident re-enactments with live human subjects in exemplar vehicles. Two of the re-enactments were single vehicle roll-overs of four-wheeled utility task vehicles (UTVs), while the third was a glancing, rear end collision between a full-size pickup truck and a larger delivery truck.

A long-standing relationship between ATA and a contractor who provides stunt men and women to the movie industry was the key to successfully planning and completing these projects. The stunt professionals who participated not only brought a willingness to assume a certain level of risk in conducting the re-enactments; they also brought specialized skills and safety equipment to minimize that risk. In all three projects, men drove the moving vehicles in the re-enacted crashes, while stunt women represented female passengers that had been involved in the subject accidents that were being replicated. Though the driving tasks might have been accomplished by robotic means, such an approach would have surely added considerably to the technical effort, expense and uncertainty of the re-enactments.

The benefits of using live subjects in these projects were two-fold. In a re-enacted event, there can be no better representation of a living, breathing human being than another living, breathing human being of the same stature and gender. A second benefit was the conscious, skilled input of each stunt driver to re-create a specific driving maneuver that was the genesis of each of the subject accidents. On the other hand, it could be argued that, in two of the re-enactments which were for plaintiffs, use of the stunt doubles (who emerged unscathed from the tests) somehow undercuts the claim that a given accident was sure to cause injury, although that argument discounts the special skills and fitness of the stunt performers.

All three of ATA’s re-enactments used Racelogic VBOX systems to document vehicle motions. The VBOX system, which was initially developed as a training tool for racecar drivers, integrates a global positioning system (GPS) tracking unit with up to four separate video cameras whose video recordings are synchronized with the GPS data stream.In all the re-enactments, the VBOX cameras, and supplemental GoPro cameras, provided a qualitative record of driver and passenger movements within the exemplar vehicles.Ground-based exterior cameras and a drone overhead completed the video record of the tests. In the truck collision re-enactment, quantitative data on the head movements of the driver and passenger in the pickup truck that was rear-ended were gathered from 3-axis accelerometers mounted on specialized headgear worn by each of the stunt personnel in the truck.



ATA has been involved in numerous cases where the pivotal question was, “Who had the right-of-way?” Some investigations are more difficult than others in determining lighting and walk signal sequences. It can also be challenging to determine the code governing the right-of-way. Some walk signals and lighting sequences change depending on location and what time of day it is. ATA uses a variety of techniques to verify lighting sequence accuracy as well as case facts once the schematics of the intersection in question have been received.

A case involving a pedestrian in a wheelchair being run over in a crosswalk by a semi-tractor making a right turn is an example of an investigation that required advanced stoplight sequence timing techniques, as well as other technology to reconstruct the accident. To answer the question of “who had the right-of-way?”, ATA had to ascertain whether or not the pedestrian entered the crosswalk during a “Don’t Walk” signal.

Using a three step accuracy verification process, the site was documented by 3D digitizing equipment, survey equipment and Google Earth. Next, the crosswalk signal was evaluated and there was a total time of 11 seconds from the beginning of the walk signal to the appearance of the solid red “Don’t Walk” signal. Additionally, video camera footage showed a truck pulling up to the intersection and stopping before the pedestrian reached the crosswalk (Image 1).

Subsequently, video analysis and acceleration tests were done to determine at what time in the video camera footage the walk signal began. Once the walk signal timing was established, ATA used Input-Ace software to place the tractor-trailer and the wheelchair pedestrian in 3D space. This provided timing and location of the pedestrian at any point during his route. After establishing the location of the pedestrian at the moment before he entered the crosswalk, ATA successfully demonstrated that when he entered the lane, the “Don’t Walk” signal had been on for 3.5 seconds (Image 2).

Using video camera footage and police photographs, ATA established 3-D graphics, vehicle accelerations, location of incident units throughout the video camera footage, light timing sequences, and walk signal sequence. Due to utilizing a variety of techniques and capabilities, ATA was able to successfully demonstrate all case facts, and determine that the truck had the right-of-way.



On June 1, 2020, FMCSA revised the hours of service (HOS) regulations to provide greater flexibility for drivers without adversely affecting safety. Motor carriers are required to comply with the new HOS regulations starting on September 29, 2020, not before.

The chart below outlines the changes taking place. For more details, visit the FMCSA website.

*Chart taken from the Federal Register website.


This issue’s Toolbox takes a look at the creativity that ATA’s staff have used in the design and set up of some very specialized vehicle and product testing scenarios.

Sometimes, we are confronted with a case or incident that requires developing testing platforms that go beyond the usual parameters of hooking up cameras and instruments, "turning the key" and reading the numbers. Quantifying obscure phenomena is one of ATA’s strengths and here are some examples of ATA's experts going above and beyond to find answers: ATA Toolbox - Ingenuity in Testing.