ATA'S "THE EXPERT" NEWSLETTER - ISSUE OF SEPTEMBER 2017




In this Issue:

45 Years of Accident Reconstruction at ATA

Successful Defense of a Case Using Various Media

ATA Covers the DPS Texas Challenge

From Bob Swint's Vault

Industry Spotlight - ATA Expert Appears on TV Report




























FROM ALPHA TO OMEGA - 45 YEARS OF BOATING ACCIDENT RECONSTRUCTION AT ATA


In 1972, Robert Swint, the founder, owner and CEO of ATA Associates, Inc., started the company with a boating accident reconstruction. Since that time, ATA has been involved a wide range of boating accident cases. Over the years, as boating technology has changed, so too have the techniques for investigating boating accidents. To paraphrase the popular commercial, we know a thing or two, because we have seen a thing or two.

ALPHA - In the Beginning

ATA’s first case dealt with a boat with stick steering. In that boat, the operator was positioned in a swivel seat at the front of a long, narrow hull, with his center of gravity high above the gunwales.


The operator steered the boat with a long stick on port gunwale that was moved forward and back to control direction. Speed was controlled by a throttle lever mounted on the starboard gunwale. The operator’s arms were, therefore, spread wide to the left and right, leading some people in the industry to call this posture the “Crucifix Position”. The relative stability of the operator depended on the position requirements of the two controls. The propensity for the operator to be ejected in certain maneuvers due to a combination of a vulnerable, unstable posture and boat dynamics resulted in the evolution of the kill switch. Though stick steering boats are far less common than they once were, the kill switch is now almost universal.

OMEGA - Today

More recently, ATA personnel tested a wake-boarding boat and testified on behalf of the plaintiff in a case which resulted in the largest award ever given by a jury in a recreational boating case.


The issues in the case included the manufacturer’s provision of insufficient seating in a boat rated to carry 18 people and the manufacturer’s failure to ever test the boat at its maximum rated load condition. Fallout from the case included an industry-wide reevaluation of the adequacy of placarding and warning labels.

Our 45 years of involvement in boating accident investigation and reconstruction has given ATA a unique perspective from which to observe the evolution of boating technology across multiple fronts. Over the same time period, requirements for operator training have been virtually unchanged, creating unfortunate situations in which boats can sometimes out-perform their operators.






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ATA SUPPORTS SUCCESSFUL CASE DEFENSE UTILIZING VARIOUS MEDIA


ATA assisted in the defense of a major trucking company that was accused of making an unsafe right turn, typically referred to as a “squeeze play”.

ATA broke down rough surveillance video footage to establish the speed of a motorcycle that was attempting to beat a tractor trailer into a right-hand turn at a roadway intersection. The process of “Camera Matching” was then used to establish locations in the three dimensional space of 3D Max Software of the vehicles from their positions in two-dimensional space (surveillance video); thus producing a 3D animation which accurately displayed the relationship between the two vehicles during the course of the incident.



The motorcycle was established to be travelling at an excessive speed as it approached the intersection, and was found to be 75% at fault, resulting in a no reward judgement. The plaintiff then appealed this decision, which was upheld by the Fourteenth Court of Appeals.

To view a video displaying the 3D animation work done on this case, go to:

Sprint Case Animation




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ATA COVERS THE DPS TEXAS CHALLENGE


The 25th Anniversary DPS Texas Challenge Inspector’s Championship was held July 17-19th at Corpus Christi, Texas. The competition was recorded by ATA personnel and will be edited into a complete video program as was done for last year’s competition. Events included Level One Truck Inspections, Private Vehicle/Bus Inspections, Hazardous Material and Bulk Hazardous Material Inspections, as well as comprehensive written exams. The competitors included DPS and police officers who were winners of local competitions from different regions of the state.

Competitors’ group photos were taken on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Lexington and a formal banquet and awards ceremony was conducted on the final evening. Overall winners from the DPS and police officer competition went to the national competition in Orlando, Florida. This year’s overall winner was Rommel Garcia of the Houston Police Department. He earned the highest combined score in six competition categories to take home the top prize.




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This issue’s vault will take you on a video tour that celebrates our 45 years of activity in marine and maritime accident reconstruction.

This is a playlist from ATA’s YouTube channel that features an array of marine, boating and maritime 3D animations and testing videos that put on display the wide range of activities that ATA has been involved in.

Scan the QR code on the vault image to view the playlist, or click here.


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ATA'S APRIL YERGIN APPEARS ON HOUSTON TV NEWS REPORT

NBC’s KPRC investigative reporter, Joel Eisenbaum, visited the facilities at ATA Associates to interview staff expert April Yergin. Mr. Eisenbaum was gathering background information on the infotainment systems installed in today’s personal vehicles.

Mr. Eisenbaum asked questions about what types of information are being stored on these systems and how that data is shared. The visit from the Houston area television station was prompted by ATA’s extensive experience with vehicle data download issues. We have maintained focus on vehicle data collection and analysis since vehicle black boxes began to proliferate in cars and trucks in the early 1990’s.

To view this report, click here.





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