ATA TRUCKING & AUTOMOTIVE SERVICES


For over 40 years, ATA has performed forensic engineering and accident reconstruction across a wide spectrum of disciplines including boating, workplace incidents and products analysis, but the bulk of our activities has been within the arenas of heavy trucking and automobile accident investigation. We have supported thousands of cases, establishing an extensive historical base of accident reconstruction, accident investigation, data analysis and specialized vehicle testing. As a natural parallel to these activities, our ECM/Black Box download and analysis capabilities have been in a constant state of expansion and evolution. In fact, ATA has built a reputation as one of the "go to" firms in the country when it comes to crash data download.

In fact, ATA has been involved in vehicle accident reconstruction for so long, covering such a broad array of contexts and situations, that the processes that ATA uses in its forensic investigation and vehicle testing platforms serve as true guideposts to anyone in our industry.

Over the course of the last four decades, the discipline of forensic engineering has evolved and the technology used to perform investigatory techniques has grown in leaps and bounds. ATA has always been at the forefront in keeping up with new software and technologies that will help us to serve our clients more thoroughly and more efficiently.

Below is a guide to the facilities, tools and capabilities that separate ATA from the crowd and make our firm a true "A to Z" outfit that serves our clients at the highest level:

ATA's "Back to Basics" Approach to Accident Reconstruction

Facilities

Software and Technology

ECM/CDR Capabilities

Vehicle Testing

Nighttime Photography and Videography

Vehicle Driver Safety

ATA's Relationship with Bobby Unser

ATA Trucking/Automotive Experts Team

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


ACCIDENT RECONSTRUCTION AND "BACK TO BASICS"

ATA Associates recognizes the need to do an accident investigation utilizing the proper scientific methodology combined with a cost effective process that can provide an accurate reconstruction of an accident if and when it is required. We call this process, "Back to the Basics". Accident related information and evidence, such as accident site marks, vehicles, and electronic data can disappear quickly. Lost or incomplete data can complicate the ability to evaluate and accurately reconstruct an accident. This can lead to issues if litigation of the event occurs at a later time.

The most effective method to understand an accident is to respond to it quickly, collect the evidence properly and preserve it until it is required. Click ATA QUICK RESPONSE PROGRAM to get details on our outstanding incident response field services.

ATA’s Back to the Basics approach investigates an accident collecting the necessary data to understand and reconstruct the accident. The data is collected but not processed or analyzed until the demands of the case require this. This approach preserves evidence to protect the client, maximizes the effectiveness of the information and minimizes the cost.

"BACK TO THE BASICS" EVIDENCE PRESERVATION CHECKLIST

ATA recognizes that the cost of accident reconstruction can be a concern to clients. The cost for attorneys and experts can be considered excessive if the accident does not lead to litigation. However, even what appears initially to be a small accident with little or no liability can result in litigation with large cost demands.


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THE ATA TECHNOLOGY CENTER


One thing we take particular pride in is our ability to design and perform complex vehicle and testing and analysis procedures from head to toe with our own staff and within the confines of our own facilities. The ATA Technology Center gives us the means to format and execute advanced testing, inspection and reconstruction support. This 15,000 square foot facility is equipped with an overhead crane and vehicle lift, electrical, shop air, exceptional lighting and a full array of tools and equipment and provides a clean, safe, secure, environmentally controlled work space.

High Bay Laboratory


Specialized High Bay Facilities

This facility houses equipment critical to handling items for inspection, testing and precise technical analyses:

  • 10-ton capacity overhead bridge crane for safe and secure movement of large objects.
  • 10,000-lb. capacity hydraulic lift raises vehicles for safe underside inspection.
  • Our 60-foot long by 15-foot high wall grid and 30-foot by 18-foot floor grid provide dimensional perspectives for photography and time-motion studies.
  • Vehicle lifting frame safely raises vehicles so that they can be rotated a full 360 degrees for test and inspection.
  • A rigid structural test table provides a stable base for structural deformation and failure tests.
  • A full array of general and special purpose hand and power tools to accomplish disassembly, inspections and tests. We also have in our possession electrical generators, welding equipment, rigging equipment, a variety of lighting equipment and a set of crash rails.

Fabrication Shop


Fabrication Shop

The fabrication shop is equipped with wood and metal working tools and machinery for fabricating unique testing mechanisms, test jigs, instrumentation mounts and demonstrative scale models.


Engineering and Analysis Laboratory


Advanced Engineering Lab

The engineering and analysis lab is equipped to perform computer analyses, electrical component testing, limited small-scale flammability and fluids testing and instrumentation procedures. A sampling of resources includes:

  • An environmental hood for safely conducting small scale tests on chemicals and flammables.
  • Power supplies, oscilloscopes, waveform generators and general purpose electrical test equipment.
  • Laboratory microscope for detailed examination of parts.
  • MasterTech scan tool - to diagnose and repair vehicle electronic engine control systems.
  • Automotive "black box" data recovery system - Crash Data Recovery(CDR).
  • Truck Data Retrieval - to include quickstop, hard braking, air bag deployment and system information.
  • Mitchell OnDemand - computerized vehicle repair information systems.


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SOFTWARE AND TECHNOLOGY


ATA also takes great pride in our efforts to stay at the head of the curve in the use of computer software and technology, thereby providing our clients with top flight support. The world of forensic engineering and accident reconstruction is heavily dependent on the accumulation of data to establish the veracity and outcomes of events and the development of visual demonstratives that can make the description of these events easier to see and understand. This not only requires a diverse core of software and computer technology, but also a constant expansion and enhancement of these tools and programs.

Below is a guide to the roster of software and analysis tools that ATA employs to accomplish the high standard of work that we are known for:

FARO 3D Scanning Station

For several years now, ATA has been using a FARO 3D Scanner to create truly life-like vehicle and site images. One of the advantages in using this technology is that one person can capture a large heavily damaged vehicle with a high degree of accuracy in a relatively small time frame. Using photos would place limitations on how large an area one could view with any particular image and you would be restricted to only the views that the photographer used.



The output from this scanner allows you to view the vehicle from any angle at any scale and every nuance of the complicated damage patterns are recreated digitally. Also, the use of this scanner allows a given commercial vehicle a quicker return to service. Once the scan is performed; the condition of the vehicle post-incident is preserved digitally.



These digital scans can be combined into producing an extremely accurate model that can be placed into an animation sequence. n the past, it had been sometimes difficult to modify a purchased vehicle model to correctly represent the vehicles involved in an incident, and once again, building models from photographs from photographs will always have limited accuracy. In fact, it has been habit to not represent vehicle damage in animations - only to show damage patterns, When 3D scanned images are used, this is no longer a restriction.

Another huge advantage to using these scanner files is that we can create still images from any height, angle, perspective or distance internally or externally. Any images created will be correct in scale, highly detailed and once again... highly accurate.


Aras 360 Reality

ATA recently acquired ARAS Reality software which allows us to take 3D point clouds developed from our FARO 3D scanner and put them into a context to be more efficiently analyzed. In the image below, crush analysis can be performed quickly and accurately on the accident vehicle's crush profile. The point cloud objects can be animated to follow the terrain of the roadway. Reality analysis tools include crush data analysis and linear momentum.



An impressive attribute of the Reality software is how easily the user can bring in point cloud data for study. Often, complex 3D environments and damage patterns are difficult to make sense of. Below are examples of how 3D visualization programs such as Reality can be a quicker path to determine what occurred in a given incident, via the analysis of scuffs and scratches on a vehicle.







The set of images above are three views taken from an Aras video involving an incident involving A tractor trailer, a car and a motorcycle.

3DS Max Animation Software

For over 20 years, ATA has been producing top level 3D animations using industry standard software 3DS Max. Few elements of an effective presentation can make a more immediate impression on your target audience than a well executed 3D graphic animation. In many cases, animations tell the story much better to allow the viewer to visualize the sequences and multiple views of an incident. Of particular use in the recreation vehicular accidents, is the ability to present the various sight-lines involved to display the visibility - or lack of visibility - of various persons or object from the driver's perspective as a vehicle moves through the incident.

Click on this link to view a library of ATA produced animations:
ATA's 3D Animation YouTube Channel


Video VBox

ATA Associates, Inc. has recently acquired a Video VBOX made by RACELOGIC. The unit, which has a wide following in the motorsports community, integrates a global positioning system (GPS) location measurement capability with a 3-axis accelerometer set and four independent video cameras. The new device promises to streamline ATA’s already considerable vehicle testing capabilities by promptly providing motion test data automatically synchronized with test video without any of the typically time consuming post-test data and video processing required.




Though designed and marketed primarily as a tool for racecar testing and driver performance monitoring, ATA anticipates other uses for the Video VBOX including boat testing, drive-through surveys of accident scenes and vertical profiling of bridges and roadways in cases where line-of-site issues may be involved in accident reconstruction. One of ATA’s first tests of the Video VBOX was the collection of a vertical profile of the Kemah Bridge, near ATA’s offices, which compared favorably with other profiles of that bridge previously collected by ATA’s other GPS systems. In the recent bridge test, the Video VBOX was tested head-to-head against a Raven Phoenix 200 GPS receiver, ATA’s GPS profiling tool of choice to date.

Separate from its GPS and inertial motion sensing capabilities, the small size of the Video VBOX’s four lipstick-sized cameras suggest new and interesting possibilities for inspection tasks where synchronized video records from as many as four relatively inaccessible, small interior locations inside a vehicle or other machine might be instructive.


PC Crash Software

PC-Crash, developed by engineers, is a vehicle dynamics simulation program applying momentum-based physics under three calculation models: 1) A kinematic model for time-distance studies; 2) A kinetics model for realistic trajectory simulations; 3) A crash model for vehicle impact studies. Its application is useful for many different accident situations including those involving articulated vehicles.

For the example image below, PCC was used as a time distance study to visualize the positions of the left turning tractor trailer with respect to the southbound car. Line of site and driver expectation were two of the key factors in this case.





Adobe Premier Editing Software

This robust software allows our staff to create full production videos in high definition format for use as courtroom presentation, as a documentation of vehicle testing or analysis sessions or for use in authored DVD or Blu Ray DVD productions.



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ECM/CDR DATA DOWNLOAD AND ANALYSIS


***GUIDE TO TRUCK ECM DATA AVAILABILITY***

***GUIDE TO CDR SUPPORTED VEHICLE LIST***

Retrieving data from vehicle Crash Data Recorders (CDR) was once a highly specialized and difficult process. It still requires training and expertise to successfully retrieve data without corrupting it. We can retrieve data from vehicle on board computers to include crash data. ATA has the sophisticated equipment and expertise to recover the available data in any vehicle configured for On-Board Diagnostic capability. In fact, we are one of a few firms that consistently keeps up with the myriad of system and equipment updates that are so prevalent in this industry.

ATA technicians have, on several occasions, been able to recover vehicle data when others could not. ATA specialists have expertise in recovering air bag deployment data (Black Box), and in retrieving data even if the vehicle's power system and wiring are damaged. In addition to CDR equipment for automotive downloads ATA can interrogate and record system diagnostic data using MasterTech vehicle diagnostics. Both MasterTech and CDR diagnostics and downloads are provided as services to our clients for litigation as well as non-litigation use.

From the archives of "The Expert", ATA's industry newsletter:

Event Data Recorders
- What type of data is stored on EDRs?
Secrets Revealed
- GM Recorded Automotive Crash Event Data
DDEC in Accident Reconstruction
A discussion of Detroit Diesel ECM data
CDR: The Technology of Crash Data Retrieval
- An overview
CDR Recap and Update
- Changes in data types and government actions


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TESTING SERVICES


ATA has built a reputation in the area of special circumstance testing. We have the facilities, resources and experience to plan, format, build and execute any manner of highly unique and individualized special testing scenarios. Automobile and truck tests, vehicle braking systems and components, tire properties and behaviors, vehicle fuel systems, vehicle handling, vehicle performance and vehicle crashworthiness are some of the areas we have done testing.

A VIDEO SAMPLING OF ATA TESTING ACTIVITIES:
ATA's Technology Center
Large Vehicle Driver Control Testing
Open Course Tire Traction Testing
External Car Door Impact/Damage Testing
SUV Stability Tests
Vehicle Suspension Apparatus
Crash Testing at ATA Tech Center

Additionally, we have conducted full-scale boat and watercraft testing. We also have the capability to perform comprehensive product testing for existing items or those still in development.

ATA Technology Center


Our High Bay Technology Center is equipped with a variety of specialized items that makes it possible to format and execute all manner of advanced vehicle or object testing:

  • 10-ton capacity overhead bridge crane for safe and secure movement of large objects.
  • 10,000-lb. capacity hydraulic lift raises vehicles for safe underside inspection.
  • Our 60-foot long by 15-foot high wall grid and 30-foot by 18-foot floor grid provide dimensional perspectives for photography and time-motion studies.
  • Vehicle lifting frame safely raises vehicles so that they can be rotated a full 360 degrees for test and inspection.
  • A rigid structural test table provides a stable base for structural deformation and failure tests.
  • A full array of general and special purpose hand and power tools to accomplish disassembly, inspections and tests. We also have in our possession electrical generators, welding equipment, rigging equipment, a variety of lighting equipment and a set of crash rails.


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NIGHTTIME PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEOGRAPHY


For over 40 years, our staff have put in the research, study and practice into finding the best equipment and methodologies in order to create accurate nighttime imagery to be implemented into our accident investigations. When accidents occur at night, numerous questions arise.

If the incident is reconstructed for presentation in a courtroom, these questions become vital to the outcome of the case. Some of these questions include- From what distance can a vehicle be seen? Was a vehicle or object illuminated? What was the effect of other light sources from behind, above or beside a vehicle? Does the subject disappear or become more difficult to see when surrounded by other lights? Does this night scene refute or substantiate witness testimony? An accurate photograph or video tape can go a long way towards answering these questions.

The goal of quality night photography or video is to create images that reasonably represent the lighting conditions and general luminance of a scene at the time of the incident. At ATA, we have done the necessary work to accomplish this task and to provide our clients with the product they'll need for the accident reconstruction of nighttime events.

The above images illustrate various objectives accomplished with well executed night photography and videography; such as driver’s eye views, split-frame scene comparisons and using gray scales to gauge overall scene luminosity.


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ATA SAFETY SERVICES AND CONSULTING


As a result of ATA’s 40 years experience with accident investigation, accident reconstruction and testing, we have developed a depth of knowledge and expertise with safety issues concerning the transportation industry. Having done extensive work in so many areas has put ATA in a position to have plenty of real world exposure to identifying the causes of accidents, systems failures and performance limitations.

ATA's Safety Training Video Library

Performing forensic engineering, incident investigation and advanced vehicle testing for the trucking and automotive industries has been a core focus for most of our firm's history. As a result, we have had a unique opportunity to witness and analyze the actions and practices that create dangerous situations out on the road; while at the same time proposing alternative actions that could have prevented these incidents from occurring in the first place.

ATA transportation safety consultants are trained in safety and engineering and hold PE or CSP designations. Drawing from their extensive experience, our safety consultants perform audits, inspections and system/process analyses to determine program effectiveness and identify hazardous conditions for correction before they lead to accidents. Their insight into why systems fail result in more thorough and realistic recommendations for corrective action.

Our trucking safety experts are prepared to consult and testify on all manner of state and federal regulations as they pertain to the trucking industry and can supply expertise on the applicable standards concerning all types of roadway shipping vehicles. They are also well-versed on truck driver risk factors, FMCSA enforcement techniques, hazardous materials transport and safety culture issues.


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Bobby Unser – Vehicle Design & Testing Performance Analysis

Robert Swint – System Integration, Analysis, Accident Reconstruction

Ed Fritsch – Mechanical System Analysis and Testing

Bob Wright – Vehicle Dynamics, Accident Reconstruction

April Yergin – Electronic Downloads, Vehicle Dynamic Analysis, Accident Reconstruction

Jeff Andre – Visual Performance, Night Lighting

James Barthelme – Electronic Downloads, Accident Reconstruction, Site Surveys

George Smith – Human Factors, Warnings

Robert Alexander – Electronic Circuit Analysis

Harold Herzlich – Tires

Andrew Klausman – Computer Software Analysis

Wayland Rippstein – Fire & Chemical Analysis

Lynn Shirey – Paint & Material Analysis

William Arnoult – Metallurgist & Materials

Alfred Bowles – BRC Biomechanics

Pete Sullivan – ASSE Master Mechanic

Ken Krueger – Photographic & Video Production

Jeff Spaulding – Graphics & Photographic Enhancement

Chris Cummings – Graphics & 3D Animation

John Sweatt – Police Interface

Van O’Neal – Driver Training & Safety


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