Nighttime Hit and Run Animation

Case Description

In the early morning hours, a team of road workers set about clearing cones to reopen lanes for the next day. A delivery driver, asleep behind the wheel, passed through an extended work zone before colliding with one of the work trucks, resulting in a fatality. The offending driver did not stop, and fled the scene. ARCCA’s visuals and animations team was asked to create a demonstrative animation of what the driver would have seen, had they been awake.  

Steps Taken

  • Reviewed available materials, including work zone plans filed with the state D.O.T., video taken from the dash camera of a responding squad car, and testimony taken by OSHA.
  • The area of the crash was found using Google Earth, and measurements were taken between various landmarks visible in the dash cam footage.
  • A 3D reconstruction of the roadway was created, which included the previously identified landmarks, as well as warning devices and traffic cones identified in the D.O.T. plans.
  • 3D models of exemplar vehicles were acquired, and modified to match the incident vehicles.
  • The sequence was animated using information obtained by the police accident investigation, including CDR data, placement of tire marks and debris, and testimony from witnesses.
  • Additional lighting effects were added in post-production to provide a better representation of the glare that would be visible at night.

Final Findings

Highway workers are at a high risk of injury and death in their line of work. To mitigate this risk, visibility aids, warning devices, and traffic obstacles are used to keep work zones safe and free from oncoming traffic. A driver approaching a work site, especially at night, should have fair warning due to the amount of hazard lights present at the site, particularly on each of the work vehicles. However, a driver that is impaired or distracted may not respond traffic control devices. In this instance, not only did the offending delivery truck driver pass a number of illuminated signs, but they also ran over several traffic barrels on the roadway. As a point of safety, the workers in the pickup truck were followed by a TMA – Truck Mounted Attenuator. A TMA is designed to reduce the impact of an automobile collision. Unfortunately, the oncoming driver allegedly woke up and swerved around the protective TMA – directly into the back of the then-unprotected pickup truck. As a result, two highway workers suffered severe injuries – which later proved fatal for the driver. ARCCA’s animations demonstrated how the work zone was clearly marked and following code, and the high degree of warning an oncoming delivery truck driver should have had due to the various traffic control devices and work zone safety practices in place. View the animation below:
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