It's no question that the invention and use of technology has helped our world advance in a plethora of ways.

For the Colorado State Patrol, the utilization of drone technology is helping investigators secure and collect evidence from crash scenes in a way that drastically reduces the extended delays that often come with car crashes, as well as the amount of danger these instances typically pose to first responders and motorists.

According to a press release from Colorado State Patrol, CSP investigated 3,511 fatal and injury crashes last year; in 2021, dozens of troopers across Colorado are becoming certified operators of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS), commonly known as drones, and turning hours into minutes for crash scene reconstruction at most of large-scale incidents handled by the Colorado State Patrol.

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“Over the years, we’ve moved from pencils and tape measures to robotic total stations, and that brought our time down from 8 hours to 2-3 hours while reconstructing a scene,” stated Captain Aulston, Colorado State Patrol. “By using this technology, we can complete our investigations even quicker and with greater accuracy. Oftentimes, we can complete the mapping step of the investigation in 10 minutes or less.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration says for every minute the primary incident continues to be hazardous, the likelihood of a secondary crash increases by 2.8%; the longer a crash remains a hazard, the greater the risk to both the driver and the responder(s) attending to the incident. Additionally, what typically occurs as a result of a prolonged crash scene makes it even more difficult for responders to get to and from the scene.

By significantly speeding up data collection for crash scene reconstruction, drones are helping investigators clear roads much quicker after an accident, which simultaneously helps  to reduce the potential for any secondary crashes.

The use of drones also allows troopers to complete an investigation without subjecting themselves to standing within the roadway or, at the very least, greatly reduces the time they are standing in a roadway, putting themselves in jeopardy of being struck by an oncoming vehicle.

Drone mapping provides more comprehensive documentation than traditional ground-based measurements; compared to traditional recording tools, aerial photos reveal much more about crash scenes, including topography.

“While Coloradans will rarely see them in action, we are aiming for motorists to experience less disruption on our roadways,” stated Captain Aulston. “It’s great to use this new tool that speeds up the process while also helping everyone get where they need to be, safe and sound.”

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