Since the first automobile fatality in Iowa on September 29, 1905, state officials have recognized the need to investigate traffic-related collisions. Starting with the very first Iowa State Patrol Academy in 1935, vehicle collision investigation has been incorporated into the training curriculum. In 1983, this endeavor was complimented by the training of all officers in Advanced Collision Investigation. Currently, officers that attend the Department of Public Safety Basic Academy are trained in Advanced Collision Investigation.
In 1984, the Patrol wanted to advance their collision investigation skill level and trained 31 troopers to be Technical Accident Investigators. This advanced training improved the technical skills of these officers to assist others with investigations into more serious motor vehicle collisions. This program met with statewide success and some officers received training in collision reconstruction.
The Technical Collision Investigation Program consists of officers who volunteer to receive training to become Technical Collision Investigators. These officers have received an additional training covering areas such as: Evidence recognition and collection, field sketches, measuring, scale diagramming, vehicle, light bulb, and speedometer examinations. The investigators are also training in utilizing calculations to make speed determinations from a myriad of evidence including skid marks, scuff marks, airborne vehicles or objects and by using linear or circular momentum equations. The State Patrol also has Collision Reconstructionist Specialists. These officers have received further training in collision investigation by attending additional schooling.
Annually, the officers investigate more than 130 cases that result in nearly 500 requests for copies of the reports. With computerization of today’s world, advancement in roadway evidence collection has improved greatly. In 2007, Technical Collision Investigators were trained in the use of total station measuring devices and were issued computerized drawing programs for their laptop computers. In 2012, Technical Collision Investigators were issued digital cameras which instantly allowed review of the collected evidence. The Technical Collision Investigator program also has five VC2000 brake testing computers that accurately calculate the drag factor for a specific roadway and/or vehicle time of the crash. Technical Collision Investigators have access to the Bosch Crash Data Retrieval system which reads airbag control modules in majority of the vehicles. The imaged data may have collected information at the time of the collision. With these advancements in technology, the case preparation is more detailed with an enormous amount of information to aid in deciphering the collision.