In this Issue:

Off-Road Vehicle Accidents

Security Camera Used in Boat Accident

Use of 3D Scanning and Photogrammetry in 3D Modeling

Hours of Service - Final Rule Update

This Issue's Toolbox Feature - Occupational Industrial

The availability and use of off-road vehicles has increased dramatically over the past several decades. The number of off-road vehicle accidents resulting in serious injuries and death has likewise increased in alarming numbers. Many of these accidents are not caused by the operator error, but instead are caused by defects and design issues that are inherent in some of these vehicles.

Accidents occur involving all types of these vehicles; and there is a need to understand how and why these accidents occur.

Most off-road vehicle accidents can usually be categorized into three basic areas: 1. Control, maneuverability, or steering problems. 2. Stability or overturn accidents. 3. Accidents resulting in hand, foot, or leg injuries.

Accidents involving control or steering problems on ATVs are brought about by the fact that most ATVs have no differentials, (solid rear axles), and that some ATVs have little or no suspension, other than the soft balloon tires on which they ride.

Studies show that the rolling resistance or motion resistance for ATVs varied both in a turning maneuver for machines without differentials and with the deflection or deformation of the tires. It was found, however, that there was very little variance in the rolling resistance from one hard surface to another (grass, hard soils, asphalt, and concrete).

The rolling resistance or motion resistance of ATVs with no differentials goes up by as much as 300% as the machine is put into a tight turn. These phenomena act as a braking mechanism which in some cases can precipitate a rollover due to the instability in the machine. Steering or maneuverability and control problems with off-road vehicles are sometimes not realized by the investigating officer when writing up an accident report. In many cases, the officer incorrectly theorizes that the operator was being inattentive or was operating the machine at speeds faster than they really were going.

Most off-road vehicles are susceptible to lateral upset or instability, i.e., a vehicle tipping or rolling or flipping over on its side. A forward pitch roll accident is where the machine and rider(s) go forward and off to the side at the same time. A forward pitch roll is a lateral instability problem. Tests show that eye witnesses tend to perceive off-road vehicles velocities to be greater than the actual speed at which the vehicle was being operated. On some four-wheel off-road vehicles, lateral upset can occur at speeds less than 10 mph (16 km/h). Although the tires in most cases are not defective in themselves, the use of high coefficient of friction tires on the off-road vehicle can be a design defect.

The off-road vehicle tire is a low pressure, high tire with a high contact area, having a deep tread pattern. Construction of most of these tires is such that they will undergo extreme deflection when lateral and/or longitudinal forces are applied. Some of these tires will hold, let go, and then re-grab the surface as the sidewalls of the tire flex under lateral and/or longitudinal loads. Thus, the tire will jump or gallop along as lateral and/or longitudinal forces are applied. These tires have extremely high coefficient of friction, which means that they hold the surface very well and do not skid or slide very easily. These tires will tend to scuff the ground which sometimes can be misconstrued as skid marks.

In addition to stability problems, many off-road vehicles have considerable maneuverability, control, or steering problems during operation. Thus, it is very important that rider protection and safety is emphasized in the design of these machines with particular consideration given to the protection of the vehicle riders' feet, hands, and legs. As it stands, the occupant protection systems on some off-road vehicles range from inadequate to nonexistent.

The present author along with others have run tests on these off-road vehicles both with and without occupants to determine if the control problems and the upset speeds which have been calculated are, in fact, valid in the real world. These tests are borne out the information reported above.

As the speed increases, the amount of damage to the machine also increases. Most people do not realize that the kinetic energy carried by a machine travelling at 28 mph is approximately twice the energy of the same machine travelling at 20 mph. Again, this depends on what surfaces are being contacted; but significant damage can occur to an off-road vehicle travelling at speeds of less than 16 mph (25 km/h).

Operator error is not the cause of off-road vehicle accidents as often as it is reported or claimed. The causation factors due to the design defects discussed above also have to be considered when investigating and analyzing an off-road vehicle accident.



With the advent of homeowner-installed security systems from providers such as Ring and Simplisafe, there has been an explosion recently in the availability of opportune surveillance videos to assist with accident reconstructions. Earlier this year, ATA was asked to review a home surveillance video from a Ring camera on a beachfront cottage on Long Island Sound which happened to capture the nighttime collision of a boat with a shoreline bulkhead. Among the issues to be considered in the incident were whether the boat was traveling at a prudent speed for the ambient visibility conditions and whether there was any validity to a claim that there had been a malfunction in an autopilot system on the vessel.

A fence post and a flagpole in the cottage yard, which appeared in the foreground of the surveillance video and in a publicly available aerial photo of the property, provided reference points for the construction of sight lines from the camera out into the sound. By timing the boat’s movements in relation to those sight lines en route to its impact point with the shore, the boat’s relatively high speed at the time of impact could be calculated to a reasonable degree of certainty.

The trajectory of the boat suggested by its travel though the field of view of the surveillance camera to its well documented impact location did seem to be consistent with an attempt by the autopilot to bring the vessel back to the creek were its journey had begun earlier in the day. Based on ATA’s research into the algorithm that drove the subject autopilot system, the fact that the vessel had missed the mouth of the creek by about 200 feet did not seem indicative of any malfunction, but appeared instead to be right in line with the quality of navigational accuracy that should have been expected.



ATA Associates have always understood the rapidly progressing technology of our profession. We are always looking for more efficient ways to collect data, proactively monitor budgets for our clients, and produce top of the line products that reflect the professionalism in which we handle each case. Recently, ATA Associates has progressed our 3D graphical approach to increase the quality of the way we document vehicles and scenes using photographs that create a scaled 3D model which preserves evidence indefinitely. This method is a complement to the Faro 3D digitizing scanner, and enhances the quality of the 3D scan.

Around a decade ago, the Faro 3D digitizing scanner was the state-of-the-art way to document, record and review evidence permanently via computer software programs. It replaces the need to take hundreds of additional photographs and saves the time used to take measurements using measuring rods. It allows for accident reconstructionists to take measurements from the damaged vehicle at any point during the investigation without having to re-visit the physical vehicle. Image 1 shows the quality of a Faro 3D digitized scan of crushed vehicle which allows us to take measurements of crush, vehicle height, wheelbase and any other needed information that is captured in the scan.

Photographs will always be taken of crash evidence. Videos and images show damage and important features of the object in question which creates the need to measure those highlighted areas. By using the proper techniques, you can take images for 3D digitizing while collecting photographic evidence of the damage. Image 2 is a 3D model using only 66 photographs. Using the Faro 3D scanner along with these 66 images produces a high quality 3D mesh that includes hard to laser scan places like crumple damage, deep gouges, cables and wires among other items.



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.

For details, visit the FMCSA website.

*Chart taken from the Federal Register website.


This issue’s Toolbox takes a look at the ATA’s background in performing investigations in the areas of Occupational Industrial and workplace incidents.

We have a long history of safety consulting, analysis and accident reconstruction support to industrial clients as well as litigation professionals. Our experts include career professional OSHA Compliance Officers, engineers and safety professionals with expertise in machine guarding, noise, lighting, forklift operations, overhead cranes and materials handling. ATA Toolbox - Occupational Industrial.