Road Crash Investigator

Road Crash Investigator

100+ on this project

Due to student deaths in car accidents we want to increase the profile of road safety in the classroom. A 3D-1/3 scale model of regional road accidents was produced after work with police. Students acted as crash investigators to find the cause.

The ideas

To study road safety and make what is learnt in school science relevant by finding ways in which it is used in real life situations. Too many of our students have been killed due to poor driving, and we want to reduce this number. It was decided to partner the traffic police. They were so helpful in sharing their knowledge. The students got to see the crash from the point of view of the police Investigators and it brought home the damage caused by road accidents.

A road crash (1/3 scale) was laid out in the school. Students had to take measurements, complete calculations and read witness statements to determine the circumstances surrounding the crash. This showed students how science is used in crash investigations, how crashes occur and how students can be safer on our roads. Students investigated how to reduce the likelihood of a crash and how they are likely to get caught if they were at fault in an incident. It makes the science they study in the classroom relevant and teaches health and wellbeing.

The initiatives

We worked with the Dumfries and Galloway Police Traffic Division who put together an amazing set of resources (which we have shared on this website), of some real life road crashes which had been anonomised. Students were then taught about how a crash is investigated by looking at the evidence, taking measurements and following the scientific process. They used the equations of motion to determine the cause. Currently we have two fully simulated crashes but in the next few years it would be amazing if we could increase this, and that as many people as possible use this material in their lessons too. The students found the experience amazing, it made them more aware of road safety and increased their enjoyment of science; to me that is a result. We are learning:
i. How a road crash is investigated and the knowledge to look for key pieces of information to assess for accuracy and to see how it can yield information
ii. To understand and use the scientific process, hypothesising, observing, analysing, evaluating, etc. to determine the cause of a simulated road crash
iii. To work as a team, to use each person's skills and draw conclusions from evidence
iv. To discover situations where kinematics and dynamics are used in real situations, particularly the use of maths at 16+
v. To use the equations of motion in real life contexts and understand they can be used to draw conclusions from accidents
vi. To work collaboratively with outside agencies, to understand their job, to see science used in crash investigations and to question scientists about their work
vii. To be safe road users and to have a better understanding of how to drive safely
viii. To take witness statements and to find out if these fit with the evidence at the scene of the incident
ix. To have fun through science and use fun and imagination to solve problems
x. To test reactions and find thinking distance, braking and stopping distances and see the effect of road conditions and reaction times on stopping distances
xi. To realise how witnesses are not always reliable when giving a statement due to rationalisation
xii. The students want to share what they have learned in the community.

Student will go through the stages of a real crash investigation which is laid out as a scene with cars and people at 1/3 scale. A police crash Investigator is on hand to take the students through the investigation stages, to learn how the evidence was pieced together and the causes of the accident, especially how the causes were related to inexperience and youth.

In addition it is hoped the students will get excited by the opportunity to use what they are learning in the classroom and extend this to real-life science Investigations.

Both the teacher and a crash investigator will be present during the work.

We will share this project at the Royal Society Summer Exhibition in London where 10,000 people will hear about road safety.

Other stories in United Kingdom