Industry Update: To Make Us All Safer, Robocars Will Sometimes Have to Kill

Let’s say you’re driving down Main Street and your brakes give out. As the terror hits, a gaggle of children spills out into the road. Do you A) swerve into Keith’s Frozen Yogurt Emporium, killing yourself, covering your car in toppings, and sparing the kids or B) assume they’re the Children of the Corn and just power through, killing them and saving your own life? Any decent human would choose the former, of course, because even murderous kiddie farmers have rights.

But would a self-driving car make the right choice? Maybe yes. But even if it does, by programming a machine to save children, you’re also programming it to kill the driver. This is known as the trolley problem (it’s older than self-driving cars, you see), and it illustrates a strange truth: Not only will robocars fail to completely eliminate traffic deaths, but on very, very rare occasions, they’ll be choosing who to sacrifice—all to make the roads of tomorrow a far safer place.

Read the full article here –

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Drone Documentation Technology

Drone Documentation: The Next Level of Data Collection and Preservation

DJS Associates is pleased to update you on our recent purchase of two additional drones to add to our fleet of Unmanned Aerial Systems (or Vehicles) [UAVs].

UAVs provide a platform of data capture which gathers information from a large variety of perspectives in a short period of time. The aerial still images can be utilized to provide accurate, three-dimensional representations of the sites and/or objects.

The ability to utilize remote controlled aerial vehicles to collect data has exponentially expanded the type of information that can be collected during, or as a result of, a catastrophic event as well as the manner in which this data can be utilized.

The ability of UAVs to fly over an incident area and/or collect data from otherwise inaccessible areas due to their position or height is unprecedented. UAVs are the next level of data collection.

DJS provides several certified and licensed UAV pilots who understand the rules and regulations which govern the National Airspace System (NAS) relating to the use of UAVs (drones).

Watch the Video Below to See the Drone in Action!


Should you, or your client, require the use of Drone technology, or would like additional information, please contact Jon Adams at 215-659-2010 or via email at

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Amish Horse and Buggy

James R. Schmidt, Jr., BSME, Sr. Collision Reconstruction Engineer ::::

During my travels this past holiday season, I encountered a single-horse Amish buggy heading eastbound on State Route 372 between Buck and Quarryville, in Lancaster County, PA. These buggies are a familiar sight in this area of Lancaster County. A couple of years ago during the height of summer, we counted over 30 buggies during our one-way travel along this route!

As a collision reconstruction engineer, I’m always interested in how fast vehicles are travelling, among other parameters. So, I’d like to take this opportunity to report a “fun fact”. Once again, using my Garmin dash cam and the GPS speed displayed thereon (note that I forgot to turn off the daylight savings time setting, as it’s dark outside by nearly 6 PM!), I am reporting the average speed of a typical single-horse Amish buggy on generally flat, level ground to be on the order of 6 mph. Specifically, the dash cam reported my speed as 6 mph as I followed the buggy for a short distance, while waiting for opposing traffic to pass and then ultimately for the buggy to make its left turn. Also, by measuring the distance between the two positions shown below on an aerial photograph (157 feet) and dividing by the time to travel this distance (18 seconds), I have independently confirmed my speed, and hence the buggy speed, to have been 6 mph on average.


While a “fun fact” to those reading, this point of reference for a horse and buggy speed could come into play in a future evaluation, as DJS Associates has been retained on several Amish buggy crashes over the years.

James R. Schmidt, Jr., is a Sr. Collision Reconstruction Engineer with DJS Associates and can be reached via email at or via phone at 215-659-2010.

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The Count-Down to Electronic Logging Devices

R. Scott King, BSME, Sr. Automotive / Mechanical Engineer ::::

Commercial vehicle operators have long been required to comply with federally-mandated hours-of-service rules that control and limit driving time. While the rules have changed over the years, particularly the amount of daily and weekly drive time, the primary objective of such rules has remained constant: to reduce fatigue-related commercial vehicle crashes and related injuries and death.

Historically, commercial vehicle operators have been required to maintain their own hours-of-service records on paper logbooks. This honor-based system had its critics, to be sure, and apparently included the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. This is because the FMCSA has, for over half a decade, been pursuing the replacement of the paper logbook with the so-called Electronic Logging Device.

After much debate between and within the motor carrier, driver, and technology sectors, the Final Rule, published in the Federal Register on December 16, 2015, establishes extensive ELD performance criteria, new protections against driver harassment, and contingency provisions for equipment failure.

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Black Boxes

Not all “Black Boxes” are Created Equal, Until Now…

Robert T. Lynch, PE, Sr. Collision Reconstruction Engineer ::::

Nearly all vehicles sold in the US since 2013 have an event data recorder (EDR), more commonly known as a black box, which is capable of recording data in non-trivial crashes. A non-trivial crash, as defined by 49 CFR Part 563 – Event Data Recorders, is any collision resulting in a change in velocity (Delta-V) to the vehicle of more than 5 miles per hour over 150 milliseconds. Older vehicles with EDRs would typically only record data in frontal collisions, but the current regulation for vehicles requires EDRs in newer vehicles to record data in front, side and rear impacts greater than 5 miles per hour Delta-V.

If a vehicle is compliant with Part 563 (vehicles 2013 and newer) and is involved in a crash resulting in a Delta-V above 5 miles per hour, 5 seconds of pre-impact speed, acceleration and braking data will be recorded in the EDR. While this information is often valuable to reconstruct the collision, the absence of data stored in the EDR can be equally as beneficial to the reconstruction.

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What Direction Was the Vehicle Traveling – An Analysis of an Intersectional Collision

Steven M. Schorr, PE, President, DJS Associates, Lead Collision Reconstruction Engineer ::::

A collision occurred, at a stop controlled intersection, between the front of a motorcycle and the driver (left) side of a passenger vehicle. The police took photographs of the point of rest of the vehicles and of the damage to the vehicles. Simple enough, right? Well, not so fast. When the police interviewed the involved parties, the operator of the passenger vehicle said she was northbound on the two lane, two direction roadway and was turning left to head westbound onto a one-way street when the northbound motorcycle, traveling in the same direction she was traveling, came up on her left side in the opposite lane trying to pass her. The motorcycle struck her driver side door as she was turning. The motorcycle operator informed the police that he was indeed northbound; however, as he approached the intersection, the passenger vehicle entered the intersection from his right, traveling westbound on the one-way street. As the passenger vehicle entered the intersection, it “cut him off” resulting in his motorcycle contacting the driver side of the passenger vehicle.

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