Basic information about the cause of roadway fatalities is increasingly unavailable. Some of this may be related to the challenging financial situation most official, news-gathering organizations are faced with. As the public increasingly looks to social media for their communications and information the life of the professional news journalist appears to be taking a beating. Many unofficial accounts of fatal collisions can see observed in various social media posts provided by “witnesses”. Some of this information can be unique and helpful, while some is uninformed, biased and misleading. While police provide some basic information including some on-site photos, that cannot take the place of the professional journalist whose reports have been, historically, less unbiased, less prone to provide information for propaganda purposes and also provides more detail and investigative findings.

A fatal rollover collision on Highbury Ave just north of London, Ontario is an example of the problems that exist. Media reports indicated that a Ford Mustang rolled over into a ditch and a young female was ejected. While the collision was reported to occur near Bryanston and “at Fourteen Mile Road” that information was imprecise and there was no information about the travel direction of the vehicle.

A brief examination of the site by Gorski Consulting revealed that the Mustang was travelling northbound. It travelled into the east ditch a few hundred metres south of Fourteen Mile Road, or just south of the well-known Devises Cheese Factory location at Fourteen Mile Road. Upon entering the ditch the vehicle had been rotating counter-clockwise such that it was sliding sideways, leading with its right side, when its wheels and under-carriage dug into the earth which propelled it into the lateral rollover. Although no measurements were taken, the distance travelled during the rollover was substantial, indicating a relatively high speed.

The photo below shows a northward view along Highbury Ave looking toward the red building of the Devises Cheese factory at the Fourteen Mile Road intersection in the background. Our black vehicle can be seen parked on the west roadside adjacent to the area where the Mustang left the road surface. In the foreground there is a light-coloured scrape in the middle of the northbound lane.

View, looking north along Highbury toward its intersection with Fourteen Mile Road in the distant background.

The photo below shows a closer view of the scrape in the northbound lane. It’s light colour indicates that it is fresh. The scraping evidence within the mark indicates that the object that caused the marking was moving parallel to the roadway.

View looking closer at a fresh scrape in the surface of the northbound lane of Highbury Ave south of where the Mustang exited the road surface.

The photo below shows a close-up view of the parallel scrapes within the mark. Such evidence is not commonly related to rollover events. In this case there is no connection between this mark and the other collision evidence that is further to the north. Yet collision evidence does not explain why the northbound vehicle left the roadway and police have not provided any explanation.

Close-up view of the parallel markings within the scrape mark in the Highbury Ave northbound lane.

The collision evidence was located further to the north at the location of our parked vehicle. The photo below shows our parked vehicle on the west roadside. The tire marks from the Mustang entering the east gravel shoulder can be seen approximately opposite from the car’s parked position. Although this view is slightly out of focus, there is a faint, curved, black, tire mark in the foreground of the northbound lane which was likely caused by the Mustang before it left the road. That black tire mark is fully within the northbound lane and there is not evidence of the Mustang travelling into the opposing lane or onto any of the shoulders prior to its travel off the road.

The collision evidence begins to be visible on the east shoulder in the location next to the Gorski Consulting vehicle parked on the west roadside.

Thus this is uncommon since, in a majority of instances, a vehicle that is involved in a single-vehicle rollover is often involved in several motions, back and forth, as it slips into progressively greater clockwise and counter-clockwise “yawing” rotations that eventually lead to a final exit from a road surface. Such motions are often visible for several hundred metres before the actual location of exit from the road. But in the present case we just see the single tire mark in the northbound lane indicating that the vehicle left the road surface in an apparent, abrupt motion, without any evidence of the noted, yawing.

For completeness the two photos below show the evidence produced by the Mustang as it entered the east roadside and commenced its rollover.

View of the tire marks caused by the Mustang as it rotated, counter-clockwise into the east roadside.

View of the gouging of the east, grass roadside where the right side tires of the Mustang dug into the earth. The rollover commenced at the end of the tire marks in the background.

Given that seat-belt usage is very high, it needs to be explained why the female passenger of the Mustang was ejected from the vehicle. In some instances police will indicate that an ejection occurred even though the occupant was primarily within the vehicle but the upper body was exposed to the outside from such conditions as roof displacement. While such instances are not common they need to be revealed when they occur so that the occurrence of this undesirable outcome is properly exposed.

While further information may be revealed, it is unlikely that the public will be provided with a properly detailed explanation about how and why this collision occurred and whether the fatal injuries should be expected. Invariably the official comment that is delivered is that police “are still conducting their investigation” and the results of that investigation are never made public.

Through its taxes the public provides the funds for police to conduct their collision investigations. While the results of these data and reports are needed to develop the proper policies at government levels, that cannot be the sole reason for this activity. Presently the results of such police investigations never see the light of day, even when matters reach a criminal trial or civil litigation. While general comments are passed on by police about roadway safety, such propaganda rarely hits home as the public rarely appreciates that these comments have connections to real-life consequences.