Background

On the night of April 29, 2016, an intersection crash took place on US Route 30 (US-30) at the intersection with Linwood Avenue in Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana. The crash involved a 2014 Scion XB and a 2014 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara. There were 5 passengers in the Jeep. The Jeep was turning northbound onto Linwood Avenue from eastbound US-30 and the Scion was traveling westbound on US-30 approaching Linwood Avenue. As the driver of the Jeep was executing her left turn, the front of the Scion struck the passenger side of the Jeep causing it to roll over approximately two times before coming to rest on its left side. 4 out of the 5 passengers in the Jeep were ejected during the crash sequence.

Introtech Accident Reconstruction Services

The accident reconstruction performed by the Porter County Sheriff’s Department determined that the Scion was traveling significantly above the posted speed limit as it approached the intersection where the crash occurred. The specific issue to be resolved by Introtech was to determine the likely outcome if the Scion had not been exceeding the posted 45 mph speed limit.

James Crawford of Introtech was retained to reconstruct the accident on behalf of the company which insured the owner of the Jeep. Mr. Crawford, who is an accredited accident reconstructionist, created a scale drawing of the crash scene and vehicle. Mr. Crawford analyzed the crash data from the event recorders in both vehicles which provided ~5 seconds of pre-crash data including vehicle speeds.

Vehicle crash data is data that may be stored in the vehicle’s safety system after a crash. It is one of the most important pieces of evidence to be collected and evaluated as part of a vehicle accident investigation. The crash data is unbiased, proven, accurate and defensible. When examined along with other available physical evidence from the crash, the vehicle crash data can provide a much clearer understanding of what happened before, during and after the crash.

Analysis

Based on the data from the event recorders and on Mr. Crawford’s calculations, he created an animation of the vehicle’s movements during the crash sequence.  Next Mr. Crawford created a hypothetical animation which illustrated what would have happened if the Scion had been traveling at the posted speed limit.

Mr. Crawford’s calculations showed that if the Scion had been traveling at the posted 45 mph speed limit during the final ~5 seconds before this crash it would have taken an additional ~2 seconds to arrive in the area of impact. During that extra ~2 seconds the Jeep would have traveled an additional ~45 feet northward and would have been well out of the path of the Scion when it arrived at the intersection.

Opinion

Any reasonable and prudent driver turning left at this intersection would have expected other drivers to be driving in accordance with posted speed limits.  On the night of this crash virtually any driver who was normally alert and was paying reasonable attention to driving duties would have accepted this gap in traffic.  After stopping to check for conflicting traffic as the driver of the Jeep did in this case, normally alert drivers would almost certainly have made the same left turn as this driver did under the same circumstances.  This crash would not have occurred and there would have been no injuries for any of the Jeep’s occupants if the driver of the Scion had been traveling lawfully in accordance with the posted speed limit.