UMTRI's in-depth crash investigation program has provided the auto industry and safety community with timely feedback on the performance of the latest crashworthiness and restraint technologies since the mid 1960s. The UMTRI team consists of highly experienced field investigators as well as experts in database management and statistical analysis of crash/injury variables. Crashes are typically selected for investigation based on information in police accident reports in the southeast Michigan area based on model year, crash type, and crash severity, and thus are biased toward more severe events in which crashworthiness and restraint technologies are most relevant.
Every UMTRI investigation involves a full inspection of the case vehicle as well as inspection of other involved vehicles when available. Digital cameras are used to document interior and exterior vehicle damage, as well as the crash scene. Contour gauges are used to measure vehicle damage and crush using standard techniques. These crush profiles are input to WinSmash software to estimate the crash severity (delta V or Equivalent Barrier Speed) for each involved vehicle. In addition to entering the data from each investigated crash into the UMTRI crash/injury database, each case is documented in a narrative report that references photo images and scene and injury drawings. The report, which includes a summary of the crash scenario, a description of vehicle exterior damage, a description of vehicle interior damage and evidence for occupant contacts and restraint use, and analysis of occupant kinematics and injury causation, is prepared in digital format using customized software.