Crash Investigation

Accident Investigation

For Crash Investigation, students should be comfortable with basic algebra and mathematics in order to calculate speeds of vehicles. Students should have critical thinking skills in order to work a crash from beginning to end and make their own conclusions based on vehicle dynamics, tire marks and roadway evidence. Students should be willing to put forth the time and effort it takes to complete a full crash investigation including interviewing people on crashes and not simply "covering" crashes, but investigating crashes. It's not just math...people's lives and livelihoods are at stake. The Colorado State Patrol is the only highway patrol agency in the country that requires officers to become Level II Technical Crash Investigators as a condition of employment. The Academy trains cadets in Level I investigation then offers Level II training on a regular basis. Level III Crash Reconstruction and Level IV Computer Aided Crash Reconstruction are also offered throughout the year. The Colorado State Patrol's crash investigation training is considered to be some of the best crash investigation training in the country.

There are four skill levels of motor vehicle crash investigation (scroll down for a more in-depth description of each level:)

  • Level I - Basic On-Scene Crash Investigation
  • Level II - Technical Crash Investigation
  • Level III - Traffic Crash Reconstruction
  • Level IV - Computer Aided Traffic Crash Reconstruction

Additionally, the Academy offers advanced Crash Investigation training for crashes involving:

  • Commercial Motor Vehicles
  • Motorcycles
  • Pedestrians

Photo of Auto Accident and Officers on scene

Level I Crash Investigation

Level I Crash Investigation is an 80-hour introductory course for cadets. The course is not only structured around a classroom environment but also includes practical, hands-on mock crash scenes. The course includes the classification and processing of a crash scene.

Crash investigation proper planning and process training includes:

  • Responding to the Scene
  • Arrival at the Scene
  • Setting Priorities Once on Scene
  • Scene Protection
  • Scene Investigation

The cadet will learn about the different types of roadway evidence such as tire marks, diagramming and measurements. During this training, cadets learn why evidence is crucial to crash investigation. The cadet will learn about vehicle damage, hit and run crashes, and will then apply this knowledge to determine "how" the crash occurred.

The cadet will also learn the basics of crash scene photography, field sketches and complex crash reports.

Vehicle Rolled Over After Accident

Level II Crash Investigation

Level II Crash Investigation is a two-week, 96-hour course. This course is a continuation from the Level-I curriculum and will introduce the student to technical crash investigation.

This course includes classroom and practical exercises in:

  • Speed Calculations
  • Damage Analysis
  • Injury Analysis
  • Scale Diagramming
  • Conservation of Linear Momentum
  • Vector Analysis
  • Roadway Dynamics
  • Uniform Circular Motion
  • Kinetic Energy and the Work Equations
  • Lamp and Tire Examinations
  • Geometry and Trigonometry Functions
  • Airborne Dynamics
  • Newton's Laws of Motion

Vehicle Rolled Over After Accident

LeveI III Crash Investigation

Level III Crash Investigation is a two-week, 80-hour course.

This course includes classroom and practical exercises in:

  • Advanced Mathematical Calculations
  • Derivations
  • Quadratic Equations
  • Auto-Pedestrian/Motorcycle/Commercial Vehicle Investigation

Level IV Crash Investigation

Level IV Crash Investigation is a one-week, 40-hour course focused on computer aided crash investigation.

The primary concepts are:

  • Speed and Momentum Analysis
  • Crush Analysis
  • Vector Math

Vehicular Crimes Unit

The Vehicular Crimes Unit (VCU,) is a specialized unit within the Colorado State Patrol. VCU members are accredited through the Accreditation Commission for Traffic Accident Reconstruction (ACTAR.)

The Patrol's VCU members respond to all fatal, felony and high profile cases that will require an extensive and in-depth investigation. Members receive advanced training in the use of technical equipment to aide in the investigation and reconstruction of crashes.

Some of the advanced investigation training is in the field of:

  • Commercial Motor Vehicles
  • Motorcycles
  • Auto Pedestrians
  • Light Rails and Trains

For more information on the Colorado State Patrol VCU team, click here.

Crash Investigation


Nathan Emery
Trooper Nathan Emery
Lead Crash Investigation Instructor
E-Mail Trooper Emery