Officials continue to provide no useful information with respect to recent collisions in southern Ontario. For example several significant loss-of-collisions have occurred recently but even the most minimal information about vehicle travel directions have not been revealed. An important issue is that Electronic Stability Control (ESC) have been mandated in new Canadian vehicles for over 10 years yet recent collisions suggest questionable vehicle motions, as if ESC has not been successful in preventing vehicle rotation.

In the morning of December 22, 2022 a single vehicle collision was reported on Amiens Road just west of London. The single vehicle collision involved the death of two persons while three others were sent to hospital two with life-threatening injuries. While the roadway remained closed, basic information such as the travel direction of the vehicle was not revealed. Long distance photos taken with powerful zoom lens were shown in various news media articles and these showed that the collision occurred near two railway crossings. Yet no mention was made whether these crossings had any relationship to the loss-of-control collision. In fact CTV News quoted one of the investigating OPP officers who made no mention of the railway crossing:

“What our investigators will be looking into, they’ll be looking at speed, they’ll be looking at road conditions, they’ll be looking at weather conditions, that sort of thing to try to figure out what has happened here,” said OPP Const. Jeff Hare. (CTV News London)

Even 10 days later no further information has been revealed about the basic facts surrounding this collision. This led Gorski Consulting to attend the collision site on December 29th or about a week after the occurrence. This inspection confirmed that the involved vehicle, a Ford Escape SUV, was southbound on Amiens Road. The site is shown in the Googlemaps views below.

This view shows the collision site which was just south of Melrose Drive. The southbound Ford Escape travelled over two sets of railway crossings then exited into a group of small trees on the west roadside.
This view shows a closer view of the 2nd railway crossing and the final rest position of the vehicle within some small trees on the west roadside.
This Googlemaps view is looking south with the 2nd railway crossing in the foreground. The area of impact and final rest position of the Escape is denoted by the small orange oval in the background.

Important physical evidence would have been lost by the time this site inspection was conducted. What evidence remained indicated that the Ford Escape crossed the 2nd railway crossing and then rotated, out-of-control into the northbound (opposing lane), rotating counter-clockwise, then returning to the southbound lane and impacting the small trees on the west roadside. The tree impact occurred about 100 metres from the 2nd railway crossing.

The extent of damage to the trees, including uprooting of some indicated that this was a major impact. Alternatively, with the impact occurring over a longer time, there would have been more opportunity for the occupants to ride-down the collision in comparison to a scenario where there was a single impact with a large immovable tree. The specific facts as to how the occupants sustained their injured should not be glossed over.

Evidence of vehicle rotation is determined by noting the presence of yaw marks on a pavement. But such evidence cannot be seen well when a road surface is wet. Unfortunately the road surface was wet at the time of our examination and this was beyond our control. Alternatively, such tire marks can be seen readily on painted surfaces such as the white edge lines of a lane or the yellow centre-line of a roadway. In the present case two sets of such yaw marks were identified along the centre-line of the road approximately halfway between the 2nd railway crossing and the impact with the trees. An example of such tire marks is shown in the photo below.

A yaw mark can be seen in this photo along the yellow centre-line of Amiens Road. This view is looking north from about 50 metres south of the 2nd railway crossing. The Ford Escape would have been travelling toward the camera. Such evidence confirms that the vehicle was rotating counter-clockwise from the wrong side of the road before crossing back onto the southbound lane and colliding with the trees.

Because we can confirm the presence of this pre-impact rotation we know that the vehicle likely struck the trees with its driver’s side. This side of the vehicle was never shown in any news media photos. And police provided absolutely no information about the collision what-so-ever. The existence of this rotation should commence the suspicions of any unbiased investigator that the 2nd railway crossing should be considered as a factor in the vehicle’s loss-of-control.

OPP investigators should have been able to access the vehicle’s event data recorder and a collision record should have been available. Typically such an EDR report will contain detailed information about, at least, 5 seconds of pre-crash events. For example if the Escape was travelling at an average speed of 100 km/h prior to the impact then it would travel about 28 metres every second. Thus the available EDR data should capture at least 140 metres of travel and this would cover the zone where the Ford Escape crossed over the 2nd railway crossing.

The effects of various road surface conditions on the motions of motor vehicles are not well-known in the police community. Rarely are there any studies initiated in collisions whereby police can make a proper analysis based on objective data. The fact that the Ford Escape was at a major angle when it struck the trees leads to the question why the vehicle’s Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system was unable to keep the vehicle aligned in a forward-pointing direction. Although ESC may not be able to prevent a vehicle from going out of control, its function is to use independent changes to the power at its wheels to make a vehicle point in the direction it is travelling. This may not seem of much help but, in fact, there is more safety in striking something with a vehicle’s front end than with a vehicle’s side. Of course if a vehicle is travelling very quickly and it is partially lifted by some roadway bump for example, there could be very little tire force available to allow the ESC to be effective. So there should be some investigation here as to whether some form of failure occurred.

Another very recent collision occurred in London, Ontario in the morning of January 1, 2023 where a vehicle’s ESC could be in question. It has been reported that another single vehicle collision occurred on Springbank Drive near Duke Street just west of the City’s downtown district. Springbank Drive contains a curve at this location which has seen a number of serious loss-of-control collisions. News media photos of the collision site show that the vehicle struck a large utility pole and there was evidence of direct contact at the rear of the right side of the vehicle. The driver was reported to sustain life-threatening injuries. Looking at the location of the area of direct contact this severity of injury does not appear to match, at least from this very minimal set of facts. However, once again, we see evidence that the involved vehicle must have been in an advanced stage of rotation when the impact occurred and that the ESC may not have been effective in preventing that rotation. If the vehicle has been pointing with its front end when it struck the pole there would typically be a greater chance of preventing serious injury.

These comments point to the continual lack of information that reaches the general public about collision events that endanger them. It remains mystifying that our society places so much importance on secrecy surrounding such events. This secrecy is one of the reasons why the general public remains very ignorant about the causes of injury. Over the decades collisions with similar causes have remained hidden, thus preventing any positive influence on improving their tragic outcomes.