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Traffic jam-busting scanner hailed by police
POLICE accident investigators say a new laser scanning device is helping reopen roads about 50 minutes earlier after serious collisions.
The County Durham, Cleveland and North Yorkshire forces say using a VZ-400 scanner, a single operator can record essential evidence at a typical collision scene in less than 20 minutes, about 30 minutes less than it takes with a trundle wheel and tape measure or theodolite.
The Department of Transport provided £109,000 for each of the scanners to help improve traffic flows, particularly on major routes, and reduce the knock-on effects of increased journey times, fuel and labour costs, pollution and increased accident risks on diversions.
After all three forces have used the devices for a month, accident investigators agree road closure times have fallen, but some remain unconvinced that it will save them office time due to resulting data processing issues.
The 3D images the scanner, which can be used in poor light and weather, produces are accurate to 5mm at ranges of up to 600 metres and measure up to 122,000 points per second.
The 360-degree shots enable investigators to view crash scenes from any angle and can be also used to create technical drawings, simulations, sight lines and for witness verification.
Sergeant Phil Hill, of Durham Police, said the scanners were being used at a variety of crime scenes when they were not needed at road crash sites.
Dave Foster, North Yorkshire Police’s senior collision investigator, said the scanner was improving analysis of collision details, including key evidence such as gouge marks, tyre scuffs, scratches, scrapes, debris and vehicle position.
The Thirsk-based acting sergeant said the objective nature of the scanned data meant every detail of a collision scene is captured whether it appeared relevant at the time or not.
He said: “Using the VZ-400, we have experienced at scene time savings of around 40 to 50 minutes.
“We are also achieving efficiency gains back office when analysing the scanned data.
“Despite collecting literally millions of individual measurements we can easily create line of sight models and move the vehicles to model different elements and aspects of the collision.
“We can also interrogate the data to get a better understanding of driver’s views, both of the scene and of the other vehicles, at varying stages in the run up to impact.”