(December 30, 2011) The GCPD Accident Investigation Unit (AIU) is responsible for investigating all of the fatal or life-threatening motor vehicle accidents that occur in Gwinnett County. This unit is also responsible for conducting the follow-up investigation of hit-and-run accidents. These investigations often require reconstructing the crash scene to scale and in some cases, producing a three dimensional animation of the events involved in the crash.
In the past, these types of accident scenes took up to three hours to investigate. Lane closures, or total road closures are often required during that time. Using the old system, small accident scenes usually required a minimum of eight officers to properly survey. Larger scenes could require up to twenty. The old system also required investigators to mark a scene, and return some time later to take precise measurements, requiring the road to be closed a second time.
The Accident Investigation Unit recently switched to a new GPS surveying system in an effort to reduce the time roads are closed, and to reduce the number of officers required at the scene. These, in turn, lead to less inconvenience for drivers. The new GPS system can be operated by a single officer and takes about 1/3 of the time. Complete measurement of an accident scene can now be completed during the initial investigation, and the roads do not need to be closed a second time for further measurement. The portability of the unit, and the ability for a single officer to operate it, allows investigators to take measurements during normal traffic cycles (for example, during red lights).
This new system has worked out very well. Road closure time has been significantly reduced, resulting in smoother commutes. The manpower required at major accident scenes has also been significantly reduced. The time and labor saved by this new equipment has already surpassed its original purchase price. The Gwinnett County Police Department is the only police agency in Georgia to use this system.