By Edwin T. Scallon, Copyright © 1990, 1995, 2008, 2020 All Rights Reserved


     Traffic Collision Reconstruction - Physics is the process of investigating, analyzing, and drawing conclusions about the causes and events during a vehicle collision.  Reconstructionists conduct collision analysis which is the process of investigating, analyzing and drawing conclusions about the causes and events during a vehicle collision and the contributing factors including the role of the driver(s), vehicle(s), roadway and general environment. Physics and engineering principles are the basis  for these analyses and may involve the use of software for calculations and simulations.  Collision reconstructions are typically performed in cases involving fatalities or personal injury. collision reconstruction is sometimes used as a basis of expert witness testimony at trials.  Results from collision reconstructions are also sometimes used for making roads and highways safer, as well as improving safety aspects of motor vehicle designs.  Reconstructions are typically conducted by forensic engineers, specilized units in law enforcement agencies or private consultants

     In 1985, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provided a grant to develop national guidelines for the standardization of training in the field of traffic accident reconstruction.  A task force of accident reconstuctionists, engineers, police officers, educators and attorneys met and developed a report entitled Minimum Training Criteria for Police Traffic Accident Reconstructionists.  In that report, the task force addressed certification of individuals in the field and recommended that "a certification board be formed" to accredit accident investigators and reconstrcitonists. Five years later, eleven professional accident reconstruction associations with world-wide representation met to explore the possibility of forming an internationally recognized acceditation program open to both public and private accident reconstructionists. The Accreditation Commission for Traffic Accident Reconstruction (ACTAR) was the result of the coalition.  The Governing Board of Directors is comprised of one representative from each participating organization.  The governing board included police officers engineers, educators and private consultants all working in the field of traffic accident investigation and reconstruction within the United States and Canada..

Ongoing goal to promote training in the field

ACTAR was founded by and exists for the benefit of the traffic accident investigation and reconstruction community. The Commission is not obligated to nor controlled by any governmental body or agency. Since its incorporation in 1991, the ongoing goal of ACTAR has been to promote, within the legal and scientific community, recognition that an ACTAR Accredited Traffic Accident Reconstructionist has demonstrated competence with respect to the minimum training standards established by the NHTSA study. Incorporation of new developments in technology and industry trends assures the accreditation process is fresh and up to date.

The forensic science of accident reconstruction is constantly improving. ACTAR recognizes that the quality and standards of different training entities can vary. ACTAR offers an independent credentialing examination that objectively assesses a candidate’s comprehension and application of the minimum training standards of a forensic specialist in motor vehicle accident reconstruction.

The ACTAR Governing Board of Directors developed subcommittees to investigate the different aspects of accident investigation and reconstruction training programs, as well as reviews of other disciplines in the field. The ACTAR Governing Board of Directors used this information to develop minimum training and experience requirements. Using those minimum standards, the Governing Board of Directors developed a two-part accreditation examination. The examination was reviewed by outside independent professionals in the testing field, as well as educators, to ensure an objective, clear and thorough examination.

Although participation in the accreditation program is voluntary, people who are properly trained and experienced in accident investigation and reconstruction can successfully complete the examination and achieve accreditation. Those who are accredited must obtain a minimum of eighty continuing education units (CEUs) during a five year accreditation period in order to renew their accredited status with ACTAR.

An ACTAR Accredited Reconstructionist must agree to adhere to a Code of Conduct that must be signed before the individual is allowed to sit for the examination. If an accredited reconstructionist is sanctioned by a court, administrative board or professional licensure board they may have their accreditation revoked by the Governing Board of Directors.

Integrity, consistency, and professionalism

The recognition of ACTAR accreditation among those in the accident reconstruction industry as well as the legal community encourages the integrity, consistency and professionalism of those involved in traffic accident reconstruction. ACTAR accreditation promotes the professional and intellectual development of individuals, organizations and institutions involved in traffic accident reconstruction. ACTAR accreditation also assists the legal and scientific community in weighing the suitability of individuals offering their services as Accident Reconstructionists while improving public awareness of the profession as it relates to the legal system.