Road traffic collision under focus

The PSNI Collision Investigation Unit and the Chief Forensic Scientist gave an enthralling presentation at a meeting of Limavady Custom Cruisers on how they determine the cause of a fatal road traffic collision.

Representatives from Allstate NI demonstrated the ‘X the txt’ campaign and those in attendance had the opportunity to realise how dangerous it is to text whilst driving.

Sergeant Amanda Kenny of the PSNI and Damien Coll, the top forensic scientist in Northern Ireland, outlined how the Collision Investigation Unit goes about determining the cause of a traffic collision via undertaking a detailing reconstruction of the events leading up to and involving the traffic collision.

Such items which are examined to ascertain the cause of a collision are;

. Tell tale signs on the road surface such as skid/braking marks to indicate the speed the vehicle was travelling in order to determine if that had a contributing factor

. The position of the occupants in the vehicle and whether or not they had been wearing seat belts prior to the collision

. The weather conditions and road surface condition at the scene

In the event of a fatality, the driver’s mobile phone is seized and using bespoke PSNI software examined to find out if the driver had been on the phone or sending/in the process of writing a text message at the time of the crash.

Also mandatory blood tests would be taken to rule out the presence of drink or drugs in the drivers’ system.

Damien Coll presented a case study of a road traffic collision which took place on New Years Eve several years ago. The incident involved a car with four occupants which failed to negotiate a bend, striking a tree. The front seat passenger, was killed instantly, whilst the two other rear seat passengers suffered horrific life changing injuries.

The driver was relatively unhurt.

Mr Coll explained the step by step reconstruction and how they determined that the cause of the collision was a combination of the car having a defective valve fitted to the rear driver side wheel, reducing the tyre pressure and the driver having an above a legal limit of alcohol reading.

The outcome resulted in the driver of the vehicle being prosecuted for death by careless driving and driving under the influence of alcohol.

He was jailed for a period of time and banned from driving for three years and civil court charges could also arise.

Meanwhile, Stephen Lomas and Christina McGrath from Allstate NI, as part of the ‘Thumbs up to X the txt’ campaign undertook an experiment with participants into the effects of texting whilst driving on a driver’s ability to safely control a vehicle.

Inspector Stephen Haslett said: “Everyone had the opportunity to use technology to demonstrate the effect of texting on their driving skills through the X the Text campaign.

“The Police Collision Investigation Unit coupled with the work of Chief Forensic Scientist Damien Coll demonstrated only too vividly the dangers associated with not paying full attention to the road and how their skills can determine the causation factors in a road traffic collision and anyone charged with causing death by dangerous driving can receive a custodial sentence.”

Further information on can be obtained from the club’s website: