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Photographing the Collision Scene and Damaged Vehicles (From Traffic Collision Investigation, Ninth Edition, P 257-300, 2001, Kenneth S. Baker, -- See NCJ-197110)

NCJ Number
Lynn B. Fricke; Kenneth S. Baker
Date Published
44 pages
This chapter covers the importance of the use of photos to record credible, permanent, unbiased, and/or nondescript data so that it can be used later following the investigation of a motor vehicle collision.
Photos for collision information are collected for their credibility, to refresh memory, and because they can be duplicated easily and simplify the description of an accident scene. This chapter also discusses the fact that photos can lead investigators astray and should not be used as a substitute for taking measurements and general observations. A discussion of how photos are made, who makes them, when they are made, and important restrictions to be observed at the scene, on private property, and the possibility of interfering with an investigation are also covered. Illustrations of sample photos of debris, and diagrams of photo positioning are included. Photographing what shows on the road, including location identification, long marks, ruts and furrows, and smaller marks is discussed with accompanying illustrations. The taking of vehicle damage photos for reconstruction purposes is discussed. The existence of story-telling photos that result from the imagination of the photographer can help supplement routine technical photos. Easy errors are discussed such as unnatural camera height, moving detached parts of the vehicle, obstruction by bystanders, incorrect position of camera, and swinging the camera unevenly distorting the resulting photo. Also, photographic techniques, identification, and types of equipment are discussed. A list of reference sources is included at the end of the chapter.