Expertly Speaking

May is Motorcycle Safety Month

Robert T. Lynch, P.E., Principal Collision Reconstruction Engineer

As the warmer weather approaches, more and more motorcycles are hitting the streets. Coming out of the winter months, where you would rarely see a motorcycle in operation in the northern half of the country, automobile operators must retrain their brains to specifically “Watch for Motorcycles.” In particular, drivers should take an extra moment to scan the oncoming lane for motorcycles prior to executing a left turn. Intersections introduce the greatest potential for vehicular conflict, and not surprisingly, account for the overwhelming majority of motorcycle (and automobile) collisions.

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Infotainment Expert Witness

CNN Interviewed Dr. Justin P Schorr, Principal Reconstruction Engineer, Regarding the Information Your Vehicle Knows About You

Cars increasingly resemble a smartphone on wheels, storing personal information such as our location, how we drive, who we talk to and how to reach them. Some even hold a way to join our home WiFi network. If you’ve ever sold an old smartphone or laptop, you probably thought to wipe the hard drive first, to protect your privacy. When we sell a car, or return a rental car, a similar thought may not cross our minds, but cybersecurity experts say it should.

This month a security researcher described buying old Tesla infotainment systems online and finding personal information such as the home addresses and WiFi passwords of the previous owners. The news was first reported by InsideEvs. Searches of eBay reveal that infotainment systems from brands such as BMW, Ford, Cadillac and Mercedes-Benz are currently available for sale.

“This isn’t just a Tesla thing, it’s every single infotainment system,” said Justin Schorr, president of DJS Associates, a vehicle forensics firm that reconstructs crashes using on-board data. “Think of all the vehicles with screens, this is ubiquitous almost.”

Read the full article here.

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Infotainment Expert Witness

Who Damaged My Car? Ask the Infotainment System.

Robert S. Kinder, Jr., MS, Mechanical Engineer

Although cars do not currently answer our questions in the same manner as Michael Knight’s vehicle, KITT, in the Knight Rider series, cars have been “speaking” to us through electronic data for over two decades. The data answers questions about the moments leading up to a collision, including how fast the vehicle was traveling or if an occupant’s seatbelt was buckled. Such information is extracted from, what is commonly referred to as, an Event Data Recorder (EDR). While EDR information can be helpful, the ever-increasing complexity of newer vehicles allows for an enhanced data set, providing insight to more than just the moments leading up to a collision. Modern vehicles contain over 70 computer systems, creating what seems to be a consistently expanding flow of data. Given the vast collection of computers exchanging data in the vehicle network, it should come as no surprise that some of the components, such as the infotainment and telematic systems, retain a wealth of data.

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Indoor Pool

Hotel Pool Parties Present a Problem

Tom Griffiths, Ed.D., Aquatic Safety Expert

Recently, a rash of lawsuits have been filed against hotels because of drownings occurring to paying and non-paying guests.

Most of these lawsuits claimed that a major cause of the incident drownings were related to swimming pool parties. Statistically speaking, more than half of all drownings in the United States occur when a group of patrons visit an aquatic facility. These swimming groups are typically comprised of birthday parties, family reunions, Fourth of July parties, and the like. Hotel swimming pools tend to be significantly smaller than municipal pools, YMCA pools, school pools, etc. Additionally, the vast majority of hotel pools are “Swim at Your Own Risk, NO LIFEGUARD ON DUTY.” Parties at hotel pools quickly inundate these small vessels with too many people. This creates hazardous situations that can quickly turn deadly; therefore, hotel pools should ban swimming pool parties, unless the hotel provides a lifeguard and creates a pool party policy that is enforceable.

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Slip and Fall Expert

Slip & Fall: What was the Source of the Leak?

Bryan J. Smith, P.E., Construction Site Safety/Slip, Trip and Fall Expert

Case Description: A bank manager entered the employee break room, where they slipped and fell due to the presence of a clear liquid on the floor. Shortly before this occurred, an irrigation system water line was found to be cracked and spraying water at the exterior of the building for approximately three hours. The plaintiff’s expert alleged that the presence of the clear liquid at the incident location was due to the broken irrigation line.

Expert Analysis: A site survey was conducted approximately 3½ years after the incident to gather evidence on behalf of the defendants. Data collected during the site inspection led to the creation of a partial basement floor plan. Measurements were taken of the distance between the incident location and the leaking irrigation pipe. It was determined that the distance between the two locations was 18 feet (see the image, above). The plaintiff’s expert took no field measurements, with the exception of the Coefficient of Friction (COF) of the incident flooring, which was measured using a tribometer. His predictable results concluded that the wet vinyl floor tile was slippery when wet. Without even a rudimentary root cause analysis, this expert concluded that the leaking irrigation pipe was the proximate source of wetness observed on the incident flooring, as well as the proximate cause for the incident.

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Trucking and Transportation Expert

One Bad Apple: An Evaluation of Trucking Negligence

Andrew J. Sievers, Trucking and Transportation Expert

A recent case in New Jersey involved a truck driver failing to see a line of vehicles stopped ahead at a traffic signal along a two-lane state highway. The truck driver drove into the rear of a small pick-up truck, which started a serious chain-reaction crash. The police reported, and the post-accident photographs confirmed, that the impact caused the small pick-up truck to “fold like a sandwich.” Fortunately, the plaintiff survived the devastating impact.

The accident occurred in the late afternoon with clear weather along a dry and open roadway. There were no vision obstructions to the stopped vehicles; however, there had to be an explanation for the full-impact collision. The trucking company in this case was not a “Mom & Pop” organization; it operated and managed nearly 50 trucks. The drivers of these trucks specialized in delivering dairy products to markets and restaurants. Since the trucks were sufficiently sized and crossed state boundaries, their operations were governed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR). Even if the involved truck had remained solely within New Jersey, the state trucking regulations, which mirror the federal regulations, would have applied.

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