News

June 26, 2017

A Study of the Reported Facts Surrounding A Vehicle Driven Off A Cliff During A Police Pursuit in Elgin County Ontario

The officially reported facts of how a vehicle came to be driven off a cliff into Lake Erie on the afternoon of Friday, June 23, 2017 were described by official news media as follows:

“About 4:30 p.m. Friday, an Elgin County OPP officer began following a vehicle on Springfield Road near Nova Scotia Line. At 4:43 p.m. the officer tried to stop the vehicle. At that point, someone threw a package out the window. The officer stopped to get the package, then searched for the car. A civilian told the officer the vehicle had been driven off the cliff on Springfield Road…”

To appreciate the content of these facts we need to review  the area in which these events reportedly occurred. The GoogleMaps view below shows the general area of the City of St Thomas in the upper left, the Town of Aylmer in the upper middle and the north shore of Lake Erie at the bottom.

General area of South-Western Ontario where the events occurred. In the top left corner of the view is the City of St. Thomas and in the upper middle is the smaller Town of Aylmer. Lake Erie runs along the bottom of the view.

In the view above, Springfield Road is labelled as Highway 40 and runs north/south (up/down) just the east (right) of the Town of Aylmer. One can see that Springfield Road does not appear to reach the short of Lake Erie because it becomes more secondary road which is gravel-covered thus Google does not display this extension in this larger view.

The view below takes us to a closer view of the area where Springfield Road Crosses Nova Scotia Line at the top and we can see the north shore of Lake Erie at the bottom.

Closer view of the site showing the crossing of Nova Scotia Line at the top and the north shore of Lake Erie below.

One can see that Springfield Road comes to an end just before reaching the north shore of Lake Erie. Note that a measurement taken from Nova Scotia Line indicates that the distance of that intersection to the south terminus of Springfield Road is about 1.3 kilometres. At a speed of 80 km/h (22.2 metres per second) that 1.3 kilometres can be travelled in about 58 seconds whereas at 200 km/h (55.5 metres per second) it can be travelled in about 23.4 seconds.

Next, the view below shows a closer view of the location where Springfield Road ends before reaching the shore of Lake Erie. The view shows the cliff at the lakeshore. It also shows a plowed farm field that lies between the end of the road and the cliff. This appears to be a single residence located on the west side of the terminus of the road.

View of the area where Springfield Road ends before reaching the north shore of Lake Erie.

We can study a further distance as shown below, from the south end of Springfield Road to the edge of the cliff at Lake Erie. That distance is about 75 metres.

View showing the distance from the south end of Springfield Road to the edge of the cliff at Lake Erie.

 

(Additions to be made shortly)

 

Reported Child Fatalities in Frontal Impact to Mercedes on Winston Churchill Blvd  In Mississauga Need Further Investigation

Confusion in the early hours after a catastrophic event can be understandable therefore the reports by official news media regarding child deaths in a Mercedes collision on Winston Churchill Blvd in Mississauga need to be taken with caution.

In an article published by the CTV News Toronto office at 0808 hours this morning, 2 children who were passengers in a Mercedes passenger car were killed when a Mazda car went out of control and slid into the path of the Mercedes last evening at approximately 2300 hours on Winston Churchill Blvd near the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) in Mississauga.

This general collision scenario has been played out numerous times where the vehicle that goes out of control slides sideways into the path of a vehicle that is travelling straight ahead. The problem is that, in the vast majority of those situations it is the occupants of the loss-of-control vehicle that sustain the greatest injury. This should seem obvious because of the additional protection provided by the front structure of a car versus the lack of such protection in the side of the loss-of-control vehicle. What is of additional concern is that the fatalities occurred to children that should have been properly restrained by child seats and booster cushions. Children restrained in such proper devices are even more protected than any other occupant in a frontal impact. Thus these reported findings are very unusual.

Furthermore the on-site view shown below shows the massive disintegration of the loss-of-control vehicle, which should be the Mazda, whereas the Mercedes on the right side of the view, has sustained moderate frontal damage with no obvious structural intrusion.

On-site view of the disintegration of the Mazda yet the Mercedes where the reported child fatalities occurred appears relatively intact.

The unusual findings are exemplified further in the view of the vehicle (Mercedes?) below that was struck in the front end and where the child fatalities were located. Clearly the extent of frontal crush has not produced any obvious structural intrusion and therefore occupants seated in the rear of the vehicle should have survived.

This photo of the supposed Mercedes where the fatally injured children were passengers shows a lack of damage that could explain those fatal injuries.

While it is early in the process and problems in the correct reporting of facts are likely to exist, the tragic results should not be swept under the carpet and a proper, objective investigation open to the public should be conducted.

(Additions to be made shortly)

June 23, 2017

150th Year of Oh Canada  – Where “Peac” Has Become A Four-Letter Dirty Little Word

Congratulations fellow Canadians on our 150th anniversary of being ourselves.

It was only a short time ago that many celebrated 100 years when we were “1, 2, 3 Canadians, strong and free”. In 1967 the war in Vietnam was raging and there were still many Canadians who had a clear memory of the Second World War, and some who also remembered the “War to end all wars”. As Canadians we were fully entrenched in the United Nations and stood bravely between many angry combatants. Young people marched through the streets raising their fingers in peace signs. Hippies and draft dodgers believing that the only domino effect in south-east Asia was that, once you sent in troops you had to send in more troops, and then you had to send in more troops. That was the climate of our 100th anniversary.

Today the news and celebrations are vastly different. On the approach to our July 1st Confederation there was widespread celebration with respect to a tremendous Canadian achievement: A marksman was able to shoot down an ISIS militant from a distance of 3540 metres. The CBC News reported “The shot surpasses the previous record held by a British soldier…”. A marvelous achievement for Canada. And if we are not impressed then we do not support our troops and do not appreciate that all this is needed to keep ourselves safe.

At Gorski Consulting we have been the observers of 36 years of the bloody hell of motor vehicle collisions. Mostly caused by the tumblers matching on life’s grambling machine but also caused by some foolishness, belief in invincibility and lack of respect for the dangerous transfer of kinetic energy onto our human bodies. We have never gone to war, never had reason to point a weapon at any living creature, nor understood the reason for other’s uncontrolled appetite for power and control. While providing unbiased analysis of how or why someone died we have also been witnesses to the pain and suffering of the families and friends left behind. Knowing that this emotion cannot allow us to be swayed in providing that objective result, regardless of how painful that news may be to those affected by it. We know very well how emotion and loss can twist persons to say and believe all sorts of irrational things. Much like the loss of war stirs up emotions, anger and vigilante justice.

In our 150th anniversary we and so many nations around us, have begun to turn the steering wheel toward becoming volatile, less-reasoned creatures. Peace has become a dirty word. In fact, the additional “e” has become redundant and we should simply spell it as “Peac”: the four-letter word that it has become.

We should stand proudly by our greatest citizens such as a member of our first nations: Buffy Saint Marie. She wrote a song a long time ago in the time of our 100th Anniversary called “The Universal Soldier”. There she gave her opinion that, if the universal soldier did not follow the commands to go to war then war would be deflated like a dead balloon. There will always be deranged leaders but they only gain importance when they have a sufficient following of the masses who have lost their ability to think rationally. It was the assassination of a single Grand Duke in the Balkans that led to the First World War where millions of universal soldiers charged each other to gain a fews yards land. Land that now accompanies them with a million poppies.

We cannot remain passive in all instances but 150 years in a lot older than the 4-year-old playing “guns” in the family backyard. When we are asked to be impressed by the killing of another human being from a distance of 3540 metres we should be certain that the ultimate goal is truly for our safety and peace for us all.

Peace is what we wish to all on this 150th Confereration Day. May you search for it and find it, pass it on to other nations and to your children and grand-children.

June 19, 2017

Automobiles As Instruments of Terror – The Reality Is Not Pretty or Easy

While the public is used to reports of the insane occurrences of innocent persons being killed through various bombings, chemical warfare and more legitimate methods of mass murder, the use of the automobile for that purpose has gained in recent popularity and media attention. In recent days in June of 2017 there have been a number of “successful” actions of mowing down innocent pedestrians by way of the common automobile. Setting aside the twisted political logic of ending the life of someone who may have nothing to do with anything, the official response has been that these actions will be defeated and the public should resolvedly carry on.

From what we have observed belief in the notion that these executions will be stopped is as useful as dreaming of the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus. While the Fairy and Santa may have their useful purposes in the lives of 4-year-olds most grown ups have long gone past that, as we should also do in believing that stopping automotive terrorists is a simple solution. There is simply no simple solution.

Modern society has surrounded itself with the automobile like it has with the computer. If either of these are somehow taken away our society will crumble. Yet, essentially anyone can have access to a 4000 pound weapon which can made to steer where ever and travel at exceptionally high speeds. As the “inventor” of the internet put it “there is an inconvenient truth” about automotive terrorist as there is with climate change. The emperor is never pleased with being told that he is not wearing any clothes thus we do not expect our comments to be of large popularity.

While we do not have a simple solution we also believe that a grown up discussion about the reality is in order.

June 18, 2017

Zipper Merging – Dangerous Advice From Those Who Do Not Understand Traffic Safety

Waiting for the last few seconds or last few metres before merging out of a closed lane is a dangerous action.

While the term “Zipper Merge” has caught the public’s attention little questioning has been carried forward regarding this latest advised method of merging on approach to a closed lane.

The proponents of the Zipper Merge state that it is a more efficient use of the roadway leading to a closed lane if drivers populate the closed lane until the very edge where they have no option but merge. The unusual logic is supportive of the reasoning that more vehicles will be squeezed onto the roadway and thereby make a more efficient use rather then creating a longer line of traffic within only a single lane.

While such logic would appear to make some sense from the desk of a bean counting theorist the practical reality is that such merging at the very last instant is extremely dangerous and fails to recognize that our system of roadways is designed to create sufficient time and distance for drivers to react to a closed lane because, from a safety viewpoint, time and distance is required. Not all traffic will approach a closed lane at slow speed. Nor will the visibility be ideal. In fact, in the presence of many large and tall vehicles visibility of signage and the location of the lane closure could be restricted. This requires that drivers merge into the open lane before an emergency situation is created.

In the presence of tall and wide vehicles visibility can be greatly diminished such that many road signs and road markers may become invisible to drivers approaching a closed lane. It becomes essential that drivers exit a closed lane early enough before an emergency situation is created.

Conflicts amongst drivers already exist as some continue to use the unpopulated lane as a way to get ahead of traffic. This generally infuriates those who sit in line and watch others pass them by. This conflict leads to numerous road rage incidents with little involvement by either police or those who are responsible for a lane closure.

The proposed Zipper Merge will not improve this conflict. Indeed problem drivers will continue to attempt to take this minute and ridiculous advantage by racing toward the end of the closed lane and then attempting to squeeze in the last minute. While such actions could be of minimal effect when speeds are slow, those same actions could be life-threatening when performed at higher speeds. Attempting to squeeze into a lane at the last instance means that, when a miscalculation occurs there will be instances where the resulting collision could be serious.

The proponents of the Zipper Merge seem to misunderstand that not all traffic is of the same character and when large trucks are mixed with small car dangerous  situations can occur. Drivers of typical road tractors are unable to detect small  vehicles located near the right front wheel and right door of the tractor. But this is precisely where smaller vehicles will be located when they squeeze into the truck driver’s lane. Again, the resulting collision at low speed might be minor between similar-sized vehicles but not so when a massive truck strikes a small car. The magnitude of the problem is increased when speeds are increased.

In the view of Gorski Consulting, the advice that the Zipper Merge should be an accepted method of traffic movement at a closed lane is dangerous and drivers should be extra-cautious during this time when such logic appears to be spreading through official circles. Instead more monitoring of traffic is required on the approach to a closed lane in the form of video to gather incidents of dangerous behavior that can be prosecuted. Furthermore there has to be more done by those responsible for road closures to monitor the developing conditions particularly as traffic back ups become longer and signage is no longer effective in providing advance warning of possible sharp reductions in the high speed of traffic on major expressways.

June 17, 2017

Supreme Court of Canada Jordan Ruling Demonstrates Fragility of Justice

The Supreme Court of Canada enforced time-lines for relays in bringing matters to trial in its Jordan ruling. While  controversial, this ruling was re-affirmed in the sister-ruling, Cody, where again the Supreme Court made it clear that it should not take more than 18 months from the laying of charges to the completion of a trial in Provincial Court and 30 months for matters in Superior Court. Various court officials have expressed concern that these strict time-lines could cause serious matters from being dealt with. Yet the details suggest that lower court judges still have the discretion to examine individual cases and determine whether delays offending an accused’s rights are greater than society’s need to deal with a potentially dangerous criminal’s actions.

Beyond this turmoil, the situation has demonstrated the fragility of the bedrock upon which the Canadian justice system must stand. Legal entities which the Supreme Court refers to as “actors” may be viewed from the outside as some irrelevant screenplay writers rather than understanding that these arguments have serious consequences to a smaller community of defendants and victims. Some claim that the new timelines are unfair while not discussing the under-lying reasons why court delays exist. Prosecutors say there are not enough resources while political ministers claim that they are moving quickly to increase those resources. In this new world of “Trumpian false news” no one can really determine where the truth lies, as indeed, some times the truth does lie.

June 14, 2017

Toxic Chemical Rollover Explained As “Mechanical Issue” Is Insufficient

This truck rolled over the concrete median barrier of the QEW near St Catharines, Ontario resulting in a potentially highly dangerous toxic chemical leak.

Once again the explanation provided for the rollover of a truck carrying a highly dangerous, toxic chemical has been insufficient.

News media reported that at approximately 1500 hours on Tuesday, June 13, 2017, a tractor-trailer rolled over the concrete median barrier of the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) near St Catharines, Ontario. The photo above shows the status of the truck with the trailer lying on its side on the opposite side of the barrier. Investigating police were quoted as saying the cause of the collision was due to a “mechanical issue”.

It would seem gratifying to all the persons within the 2 kilometer radius of the site who were evacuated that they were informed of the details of why such a dangerous event occurred. Surely a description like “mechanical issue” is all that is needed to be said. The possibility that this “mechanical issue” could have killed thousands of persons was not an understatement however the two word explanation would seem sufficient. Or are we wrong?

There is a further point: how did the trailer become flipped over the concrete barrier? Should no one question how and why a trailer carrying such a lethal cargo could be involved in such an incident?  One of the continual topics covered by Gorski Consulting on this website is the fact that roadside barriers on any highway are not designed to sufficiently manage the loss of control of a heavy truck or bus. More importantly we have stated that such barriers as the one in the present rollover are so low that they initiate a rollover rather than redirecting a heavy vehicle. This fact is not discussed and this prevents the general public from creating the mass impetus necessary to cause change. The upgrading of a vast number of barriers in North America is a huge expense that no single entity would want to put forth when there are so many other societal needs. Yet there is no general knowledge or discussion whether such up-grades are achievable.

At a minimum, heavy trucks carrying extremely dangerous cargos cannot be allowed to simply roll over a concrete without a detailed explanation whether a truck combination was used to minimize loss-of-control and rollover. At a minimum the truck trailer shown in the above photo seems to show a suspiciously high centre-of-gravity without adjustment of the track width and trailer length to compensate for that height. The trailer itself also appears to be of a non-standard design and should be evaluated for its compatibility with the road tractor. Whatever the specifics of the “mechanical issue” described by police the public needs to be informed what this mysterious “mechanical issue” was and why it existed.

June 6, 2017

How We Determine Pedestrian Speed Is Critical In A Collision Reconstruction

In the dark and mysterious realm of expert opinion in motor vehicle accident reconstruction the public rarely gets to see how analyses are conducted and how expert conclusions are drawn. Take the case of a stopped school bus and children exiting as shown in the photo below.

A school bus stops at a rural location and two young boys exit to proceed across the rural highway.

Although the stop sign of the bus, flashing lights and other warnings provide the motorist with ample information that they must stop, this similar scenario does not apply if the vehicle is not a school bus. In many scenarios smaller children are not tall enough to be seen above most vehicles. So if a driver strikes a child crossing the road, how much is it the driver’s fault? A critical factor in such an analysis is the speed assigned to the child crossing the road and therefore the time available for the driver to detect, identify and react. So the assumed crossing speed of the child becomes a critical factor in the analysis.

The photo below shows the scenario after one of the two young boys completes the crossing whereas the previous photo shows the scenario as that boy just begins the crossing.

The first of two young boys completes the crossing. What kind of speed should be assigned to that crossing and how much time did the driver have to detect, identify and react?

Experts typically look at observational data from published sources to come up with a reasonable crossing speed. From the above photos it would seem that a witness would suggest that the first boy was running very fast. But “running fast” for a 4-year-old might be substantially different than for a 10-year-old or a 14-year-old male. Some previous research (Eberhardt and Himbert, 1977) suggests that a running 4-year-old might travel at a speed of 3.1 metres per second, an 8-year-old 4.6 metres per second and a 14-year-old 5.35 metres per second. Another source (Eubanks and Hill, 1998) suggest a 5-year-old average running speed would be 3.4 metres per second, 8-year-old 4.3 metres per second and 14-year-old 4.5 metres per second. Thus, although the differences seem small, it depends which source you use for your assumptions.

However, what is an average 10-year-old? Is it a boy who is the slowest runner in his class of fast runners. Is it a boy carrying a knapsack? Is it a boy who wants to race his friend across the road? There are many factors that complicate the assumption.

Then, where do you “start” the crossing? In the above photos the driver facing the front of the bus may see the first boy as he commences his run from the far edge of the road. A driver approaching from the back of the bus may not have a chance to detect the running boy until a short time after the boy clears the driver’s side of the bus.

But what if either driver happens to briefly take his eyes away from the location where the boy begins to run: Does that not change the conclusion as to where the “start” of the run should be detected by either driver? Is it an absolute fact that every driver must be looking directly ahead at every instant of their driving? Is it possible that a driver’s attention might be drawn to an equally important fact on the other side of the road?

What if the impact occurred with the second boy? Should the driver have been forewarned by the presence of the first boy that there could be a second one running behind him? In hindsight many say yes, but often such judgments  are made after already knowing that a tragic event occurred and that someone must “pay” for it.

A typical, two-lane rural highway may contain lanes that are between 3.5 and 3.7 metres wide. However many local paved roads may contain lanes as narrow as 3.0 metres. If we assumed a lane width of 3.5 metres, and we assumed the first boy was about 8-years-old we might say that the boy running at a speed of 4.3 to 4.6 metres per second would complete the crossing of both lanes in about 1.5 to 1.6 seconds. Is this enough time for a driver to detect, indentify and react? Many experts use “perception/reaction” times as low as 0.5 seconds and some suggest that complex scenarios might be as high as 2.5 seconds or higher. So what is reasonable? Does the public know? Do the lawyers in the courtroom know? And even more importantly does the judge and jurors know?

There are many complications to these matters.

In many instances expert opinions in court are provided and believed without a firm grasp of what the expert has assumed and whether that assumption is reasonable. Thus it is essential for the expert to inform all involved not only what was assumed but why it was assumed and why that assumption was chosen to be reasonable.

 

June 5, 2017

Where is the Flagman?

Roadside construction on this rural highway could have led to fatal consequences as no flagman was used to direct traffic.

The actions of all persons on the road need to be monitored including those conducting construction along rural roadsides. In the above photo a construction vehicle blocking the approaching lane at a location where a solid centre-line indicates that it is unsafe to make a passing motion. The driver stopped behind the truck will require a considerable time to travel around the large truck because the vehicle will need to be accelerated to the higher speed. Note that a typical highway passing motion at 80 km/h is completed in about 8 seconds. As shown in the following two photos there is a worker with a white construction helmet who could have been used as a flagman to direct traffic but that is not the case.

A worker with a white construction helmet is available on the roadside and could have been the flagman to direct traffic.

 

Why is there no flagman in this scenario?

So where is the flagman? We found him. He/she was sitting in the back of the truck, as shown in the photo below.

The “Flagman” is sitting in the back of the truck, or at least the sign of the flagman.

This is a dangerous situation because of the length of the dump truck combined with the additional length of the large trailer that must be passed by the driver of the stopped van at a location where the visibility ahead is not  of sufficient distance as noted by the solid yellow centerline. Factors like these need to be identified in police investigations when fatal collisions occur.

Skating With Blind Trust

It’s never a bad time to adjust your skates!

Ok, we have seen it all before but this is another reminder: Pay attention to traffic. The above skater was found on Clarke Road in east London yesterday travelling northward in the curb lane.

News Moved To Archived Webpage

All news items including May, 2017 have now been moved to the Archived News page of this Gorski Consulting website.

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