Video Evidence Collection Suggestions

While taking a video of the crash scene can certainly document the physical evidence, traffic conditions and any temporary conditions such as construction or site obstructions, a cautious approach is always suggested. The following is a list of some recommended practices to remember when making a video.

Accident Scene Video Documentation

For a drive through video of a scene:

  • Make sure you are familiar with the camera operation beforehand.
  • Make sure the recording can be transferred to a common viewable format for others to see afterwards.
  • Turn off the Radio and do not talk on the phone while recording.
  • Do not attempt to narrate the video and if possible turn off the audio recording portion.
  • Always use a new, clean disc for each date of inspection.
  • Label disks or video footage immediately following.
  • Consider using a windshield or dash mount for the camera for stability purposes.
  • Clean the vehicle’s windshield for a better view.
  • Make sure there are no items obstructing the camera’s view.
  • Consider using traffic cones or barrels for landmark positioning.
  • A drive through video of the scene during daylight hours would certainly be more helpful for viewers to appreciate the roadway configuration better and then if needed, complete a nighttime follow-up video.
  • Be aware of other parties at the scene and minimize the involvement of others.
  • If using company personnel, make sure the driver/operator of the video knows the purpose of making this video.

For crash scene documentation:

  • Make sure to have a plan for documenting physical evidence.
  • Attempt to “tell a story” with the video: Visually collect the evidence in a methodical manner without hopping from piece to piece.
  • Make sure the video camera has a stability function built-in to reduce motion of camera and keep close-ups to a minimum.
  • Take your time throughout and especially during zoom-in shots.
  • Do not narrate the video and if possible turn off the audio portion.
  • Ensure EVERYONE around you is aware that a video is being made.
  • Be aware of other parties at the scene and minimize their involvement in the video.
  • Have someone present with you to watch traffic and ensure your safety.
  • Consider using a scale in close ups to help with size determination or directional information.
  • Start the video with a description such as an intersection sign showing the roadway names or a known landmark if possible.
  • For skid mark documentation it may help to lower the camera angle of the skids. This may help to identify impending skids, marks left by a tire prior to actual lockup, if the scene visit is quick enough.

Vehicle Inspection

  • Always conduct a preliminary inspection prior to video-taping to gather a “Game-Plan” and make sure to identify any hazardous conditions or biological hazards.
  • The best way to start a vehicular inspection video is with documenting identification of the vehicle, including license plate, make/model of vehicle then VIN from door jamb or windshield.
  • Then, if possible, identify the location of the inspection, whether it’s a “shot” of the tow yards sign or the business’ sign or logo.
  • The best way to document vehicular damage is to begin making concentric circles around the vehicle slowly at different heights, starting low and gradually moving higher on consecutive passes.
  • Make sure to look along the side planes of the vehicle to allow for appreciation of deformation. (I.e. look down the side of a vehicle from the front to show any displacement of the fenders laterally then look across the front of the vehicle from the side to allow for appreciation of the amount of crush rearward.
  • Include an interior inspection as well, to include all gauges visible, seat belt conditions, airbag deployment, any contents in the interior etc.
  • Also make sure to document each tire and wheel, including the tire manufacturer and size and tread wear including the wheel itself.
  • Document any paint transfer or pre-existing damage found on the vehicle.