Evaluation of Vehicle Velocity Predictions Using the Critical Speed Formula
Tire marks left by the vehicle prior to impact, rollover, or other event, are important forensic evidence reconstruction of motor vehicle accidents. Often these tire marks have some curvature that is measured and used to calculate the speed of vehicles prior to the event. This calculation is based on the coefficient of friction of the tire/road interface and the radius of curvature of the vehicle center of gravity (c.g.) path. There is controversy about the validity of this approach. To explore this theory, a test vehicle was driven through a series of maneuvers that produced yaw marks for direct comparison of actual vehicle velocity to the velocity calculated by the critical speed formula. Test results show the critical speed formula is inaccurate for most circumstances and does not correctly describe vehicle limit performance behavior.