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 Accident 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 Accident Reconstruction and Level IV Computer Aided Accident Reconstruction are also offered throughout the year.  The Colorado State Patrol's accident investigation training is considered to be some of the best accident 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 Accident Investigation
  • Level II - Technical Accident Investigation
  • Level III - Traffic Accident Reconstruction
  • Level IVComputer Aided Traffic Accident Reconstruction

Additionally, the Academy offers advanced Accident Investigation training for accidents involving:

  • Commercial Motor Vehicles
  • Motorcycles
  • Pedestrians

Photo of Auto Accident and Officers on scene

Level I Accident Investigation

Level I Accident 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 an accident scene.

Accident 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 accident investigation.  The cadet will learn about vehicle damage, hit and run accidents, and 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 Accident Investigation

Level II Accident 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 accident 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

Leve III Accident Investigation

Level III Accident 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 Accident Investigation

Level IV Accident 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 accidents.

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.


Master Sergeant Bill Barkley

E-Mail Master Sergeant Barkley

Trooper Bonnie Collins

E-Mail Trooper Collins