While the official news media have not mentioned it, a serious, head-on collision occurred on Clarke Road north of Fanshawe Park Road between the two curves of the S-curve over the weekend. This is the location where Gorski Consulting has been documenting evidence of loss-of-control collisions since 2009. We had just completed uploading an article on this Gorski Consulting website discussing the fact that 96% of loss-control events involving a passage through an opposing lane are never documented in police records. We also indicated that this was a game of Russian Roulette since, up to that point, there has never been a head-on collision with southbound vehicles that keep crossing into the northbound lane of Clarke Road. Well, with the latest collision, this represents the first time that the game of Russian Roulette has met a victim.
The existence of fresh gouges in the pavement of the northbound lane, as shown below, is a bad omen as such evidence is typically found at fatal head-on collisions.
The fact that oil and battery acid were thrown on the pavement at the gouges indicates the extent of frontal damage that was done to the impacting vehicles. The concentration of vehicle debris lying next to the point of impact indicated that the involved vehicles were a Ford and a Toyota and that they were light-duty vehicles (i.e. passenger cars, SUVs, Pick-up trucks or vans).
The seriousness of the possible consequences can be appreciated when we examine the long distance that the southbound vehicle travelled after the impact and therefore the high speed of the southbound vehicle that crossed over the roadway centre-line.
The photo below shows a northward view toward the area of impact and one can see a dark trail of fluid on the east shoulder and driveway in the foreground indicating the path of the southbound vehicle after it left the impact. Some additional tire marks located on the grass of the east roadside may be related to the travel of a third vehicle but it cannot be established at this time whether those marks are related to the present collision.
This northward view, looking toward the area of impact, shows a dark fluid trail leaving the impact and travelling toward the camera. This is the path of the southbound vehicle after the impact.
In the photo below we have swung the camera around 180 degrees to show the dark fluid trail indicating the path of the southbound vehicle between our parked car and the utility pole in the background.
By swinging the camera around 180 degrees to look southward, one can see the dark trail of the fluid as it passes between our parked car and the utility pole in the background.
The photo below shows the fluid stain, looking north, from the approximate location of the utility pole. Just looking that the distance toward the area of impact in the background one should appreciate that the southbound vehicle is travelling at a substantial speed even after the impact occurred.
This view looking north from the utility pole clearly shows the path of the dark fluid stain caused by the southbound vehicle.
The photo below shows how the fluid trail changes direction slightly near the utility pole. There was a slight impact of the pole and this could be why we see a change in the direction of the southbound vehicle. One can see some broken chips of red lens on the ground in the foreground indicating the rear corner of the vehicle may have made the contact with the pole.
This view looking northward shows a slight change in direction of the fluid trail near the utility pole likely caused by a glancing blow to the pole.
The photo below shows a close-up view of the red lens material and horizontal scrapes to the wood confirming that the southbound vehicle made contact with the pole.
In the photo below we see the northward view of the fluid trail travelling past the pole and toward the camera which is positioned near the south property line near a fence and bushes.
View looking north from a distance south of the utility pole showing the fluid trail coming toward the camera near a fence and bushes at the property line to the City of London water reservoir.
The photo below shows the location at the fence and bushes of the south property line where the southbound vehicle collided and finally came to rest. Dual wheel truck tire impressions in the grass suggest the vehicle was towed from this location.
View, looking south, toward the fence and bushes at the property line to the City of London water reservoir. The southbound vehicle crashed into the fence and bushes where it finally came to rest.
The photo below shows where the fluid stain terminates at the gap in the bushes of the property line where contact was made.
As a final note we can return to north curve that the southbound vehicle passed through before it crossed the centre-line. In the foreground of the photo below we can see the end of a thin dark tire mark to the right (west) of the centre-line which could signify the side-slipping of a southbound vehicle. However this tire mark cannot be attributed to the collision events at this time.
View, looking south, from the north curve where a thin dark tire mark can be seen to the right of the centre-line. Such markings can indicate a sideslip but it is not known if this mark is related to the collision event.
In summary, we had just completed an article entitled “Historical Patterns of Loss-Of-Control Events At Specific Road Locations” in which we indicated that 26 southbound vehicles had crossed, out-of-control, over the roadway centre-line between the two curves of the S-curve and that it was lucky that none of these events resulted in a head-on collision. We wondered why this occurred and suggested that perhaps these events were occurring at night-time when there was little traffic and thus there was less opportunity for inter-vehicle contact. However we also indicated that this was a game of Russian Roulette in that, eventually, luck will even out and a serious head-on collision would likely occur. It is a coincidence that, just after uploading this article, we documented the first instance, in 8 years of study, where a serious head-on collision occurred involving a high-speed southbound vehicle exiting onto the east roadside.
If one looks at some of the collisions documented in our article it is revealing how some of the incidents are so similar to the present case. The only difference was that in this case there was a northbound vehicle in the location where the southbound vehicle slid into the northbound lane. We would not be surprised to find a police report describing the present case and the investigating officer noting that “speed was a factor” and therefore nothing further needed to be noted. This officer would have no knowledge of the history of the site and would be unaware of the many unreported collisions that occurred there in the same manner as the one he/she was currently documenting. This is how investigations have occurred in the several decades of the past.
We have recently provided testimony at several trials where the opposing lawyers has tried to suggest that our involvement in roadway safety issues goes beyond our area of expertise because of a ruling that was made in an Ontario Court of Appeal case ( Johnson v. Town of Milton, 2008). That Court of Appeal ruling was difficult to reconcile for many reasons. For one, the Court of Appeal simply had no knowledge of our background in roadway safety issues. Why it would make a ruling without that knowledge is difficult to comprehend. The Court of Appeal also separated the role of “Accident Reconstruction” into separate compartments such that roadway assessment was one, speed calculation was another, driver perception was another, and so on. It deemed that an investigator who conducted an assessment of roadway issues, speed and driver perceptions was being an “expert generalist” who was trying to present expert testimony on too many issues. Incredibly, that same Court of Appeal would see nothing wrong with a police officer, even a reconstructionist, writing a report and claiming that a collision was caused by high speed and nothing else. It would seem obvious that, by stating the cause was due to high speed , the officer also had to rule out the possibility that the collision was due to a roadway safety issue. But how could the officer rule out the roadway without having some knowledge, training or experience with what is a roadway safety problem? Yet, clearly, that officer has to make such a conclusion at every collision he/she investigates. Is that police officer now an “expert generalist”?
In the court’s eyes is it OK for the police reconstructionist to say there was no roadway safety problem and therefore he/she is not trying to be an “expert generalist” as long as the officer was not stating that a roadway problem existed? But if that same officer then says, yes, there was a roadway safety problem, does the court now turn around and claim that the officer is trying to be an “expert generalist”? Does that make any logical sense? Clearly there are numerous investigations that have to be made which must include the three primary and general factors as described in the Haddon Matrix: The Human, The Vehicle, and The Environment. That has to be how reconstruction of a collision must occur. When the courts try to stop evidence from being entered as testimony regarding possible roadway safety issues they create a bias that is both illogical and dangerous to the general public. Roadway safety issues that are hidden from discussion and are not revealed are dangerous to all of us. In our 37 years of collision analysis we have known that to be true and we have high-lighted these problems whenever our objective analysis revealed it was so.
The analysis and findings we have provided from the research at the Clarke Road site demonstrates just how often roadway safety issues can be hidden and the process by which they remain hidden. Yet efforts continue to prevent this evidence from being made public.