ABC of Accident and Crash Investigation
Stanley Bezuidenhout is an internationally experienced crash investigator, crime scene analyst, court expert, author, trainer, and public speaker. He has committed more than 20 years of his extensive career to crash investigation and expert services in many countries, including the SADC Region of Africa, the Middle East, the United States of America, and Canada.
As a Military Intelligence Veteran, a former Specialist Reservist in the South African Police, and as the owner of IBF Investigations - a private crash investigation and reconstruction business - Stan has extensive experience at live scenes and in courts at all levels. He remains active in the crime and crash investigation, reconstruction, and expert witness industry.
A passionate road safety advocate, Stan has investigated some of the most serious crashes - some involving as many as 51 fatalities - in the SADC region, as a private Investigation Specialist, as a Police Reservist, and as a Government Contractor. Always committed to education, empowerment, and the improvement of road safety, Stan has kindly compiled a DIY Manual that contains a lot of information about the investigation of crashes, the attendance of live scenes, and the handling of evidence, all the way into court.
As a long-time friend of, and contributor to, the Arrive Alive Website, Stan has kindly made his updated international version of this manual available to South Africans, through our website, for free! Whether you are a private individual wanting to prepare for the unthinkable, having to investigate your own accident, or wanting to investigate one you have just been involved in, this DIY Manual should be a perfect fit! Having seen the many mistakes police officers, traffic officers, and even expert witnesses make during their official investigations, Stan even included a list of mistakes they should avoid, to become better at their work. As far as Legal Interns, Lawyers, Advocates, Prosecutors, or even Magistrates and Judges are concerned, Stan did not forget about you. This is a book that anyone could find value in.
For the first time in South Africa, a comprehensive DIY Manual, covering everything from taking or making the first call to standing in the court, written by a South African for South Africans, is available to everyone.
This Manual covers a variety of very important topics, which include:
- Equipment - what tools to consider for crash investigation.
- Taking emergency calls - how to gather or supply the correct information, properly.
- Investigation Records - why you need to keep them, and what to keep.
- Crime Scene Awareness - avoiding contamination at crime scenes.
- Marking Evidence - how to mark vehicles and other evidence at live crash scenes.
- Basic Investigation - the stuff anyone could do.
- Scene Photography - the photographs that should be taken at scenes.
- References - Including the Legal Duties of a driver, at a crash scene.
- Mistakes to avoid - how to ensure that you do not make investigation mistakes.
- Technical Sections - How seatbelts work, speed analysis, insurance repudiation, etc.
- A Speed Chart - a way to quickly estimate speeds from skid marks.
Be sure to download your copy, share it with friends and family, and read it over a weekend, a holiday, or at any time on most devices. In PDF Format, this DIY Manual can be opened on almost any Computer, Tablet, E-Reader, or Mobile Device, or can even be printed in physical format. Chock full of advice, examples, and roadsigns to a better investigation, better case management, better evidence, and better testimony or cross-examination, the value of this manual cannot be overstated!
The following is an extract from only one part of this very informative manual:
There is a more effective technique, that enables you to gather much more information, and that allows you to control and guide the flow of information - deposition style interviewing.
A deposition is like a trial - it is when a person is asked specific questions to which they must give specific answers. By using this method, you can control the answers you receive, you can guide and even plan the investigation, you can gather more evidence and you can easily prime your subject to detect deception early in the investigation.
A deposition-style interview consists of a list of questions designed to extract micro-facts: little snippets of information that the subject has in store that they may not even realize they can recall or that they might not even know are relevant. The questions must be designed to solicit nothing more than very short, simple answers that are too simple to spend time lying about. If you ask someone what happened and you do not specifically address what their speed was, they are likely not to refer to it at all - especially if they were speeding.
Also - if they were on a cell phone, they might not mention it at all. But people are inherently uncomfortable when they have to lie, so when asked directly what their speed was or whether they were on their cell phone they will either answer directly (and truthfully) or start showing the deception indicators we will discuss in the next part. It really is that simple!
If you deal with a subject, ask simple questions that would solicit simple answers, along the lines of these examples:
- What is your Surname?
- What is your first name?
- What is your date of birth?
- How old are you?
- What is your home address?
- Did you consume any alcohol today?
- If yes - how much did you have to drink?
- Were you wearing your seatbelt?
- Were you on your cell phone?
- Are you on any medication?
- Were your lights turned on?
- Were you alone in the vehicle?
- If no - who sat to your left (or right, rear, etc.)?
- Was your radio on?
- What was playing on the radio?
- Where any of your windows open?
- What were you talking about, with your passenger?
- Where were you when you first saw the other car?
- Did you apply brakes to try to avoid the collision?
- Did you swerve to avoid the collision?
- Were you tired, while you were approaching the area?
- Did you have enough rest last night?
- What made you realize you’re having an accident?
Using that list as a basic guide, you can easily think of additional questions you might be able to ask. Think about all the possible aspects of the collision - whether lights were on, working, not working, on low beam (dim) or high beam (bright), whether the street lights were on, whether their windshield wipers were on, whether the road was very busy, whether there were many cars on the road, etc.
If you break down the list of questions into as many smaller components as possible, you would likely be able to gather much more information without causing your subject to feel exposed or like they are being interrogated. On their own, these kinds of simple questions, requiring only simple answers, do not feel like an interrogation and will help your subject relax more and focus more specifically on the answers.
When you approach the interview in this way, your subject will also not be in a position to prepare any lies. If you ask a subject what happened and follow up with complex questions like “whose fault is it” or “why didn’t you do something to prevent the accident” or even just “couldn’t you stop,” you will allow them an opportunity to prepare an answer that places them in the most favourable light.
They will invariably have (and take the opportunity) to lie if there is any motivation for them to be deceptive. This method will enable you to detect deception with some very simple techniques we are about to cover.
Get your copy to learn effective interviewing techniques, how to measure, how to mark evidence, and so much more!
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