You'll get some basic instruction for traffic accident investigation during your academy training. When you begin your
patrol activities, you'll find yourself responding to traffic accidents on a frequent basis. When the rain starts, you can
almost be assured that you'll be handling a traffic accident during your shift. Fortunately, most of the accidents you
investigate will be relatively minor and relatively simple to investigate. As long as you throughly familiarize yourself
with your department's accident report, and manuals or other investigative aids provided, you shouldn't have a problem.
It's also important to start reading your state's traffic articles, and keep that book with you for reference when
determining the proper traffic citation(s) to be issued when appropriate.
If you join a police department of any size, your department will have a specialized traffic investigation unit tasked with
the responsibility to investigate all fatal traffic accidents or accidents where the seriousness of injury(s) requires
investigation by the traffic specialists.
Just remember, you could be assigned to investigate a serious traffic accident you feel should be handled by the
specialized unit. Just because you think the accident should be investigated by the special unit doesn't mean it will be.
That decision is usually made by the traffic specialist when he or she arrives on the scene. Normally, if the specialist
says you have the investigation, that's usually the end of any debate on that subject.
Many police officers often get upset when another police officer, who is the traffic specialist, declines to investigate an
accident the original officer believes should be investigated by the more competent police officer by virtue of his or her
advanced training. When you find yourself in a similar situation, don't waste your time complaining or experiencing any
frustration. There's probably a reason for declining the investigation such as the accident simply does not meet the
seriousness criteria of the unit, or the availability status of the specialized unit could be diminished to an unacceptable
level at that particular time.
If you join a small police department, you may have one police officer who has received advanced training in accident
investigation. Even if the officer is not on duty when a serious accident occurs, he or she may be on call for investigative
response to the accident. In any case, small police departments can always request the response of their state police or
highway patrol whose officers are more highly trained in traffic accident investigation.
Unless you've taken some prior interest in traffic accident investigation, you have no idea just how involved it can
become. I've provided you with a number of links to give you some idea of the unbelievable number of things that can
be considered, calculated and quantified in traffic accident investigations. If you're good at math, and you like the idea
of one day specializing in traffic accident investigation, now's a good time to start reading.
You'll find that some police officers do a really lousy job when it comes to investigating traffic accidents. Then
again...those same officers usually do a lousy investigation of anything. You don't have to be an expert to become a
competent traffic accident investigator. Your investigation may not include all the analytical and mathematical
conclusions and calculations, but it can present a clear and easily understandable sequence of events.
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Traffic Accident Investigation