A need for national standardization of training

In 1985, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provided a grant to develop national guidelines for the standardization of training in the field of traffic accident reconstruction. A task force of accident reconstructionists, engineers, police officers, educators and attorneys met and developed a report entitled Minimum Training Criteria for Police Traffic Accident Reconstructionists. In that report, the task force addressed certification of individuals in the field and recommended that “a certification board be formed” to accredit accident investigators and reconstructionists.

Five years later, eleven professional accident reconstruction associations with world-wide representation met to explore the possibility of forming an internationally recognized accreditation program open to both public and private accident reconstructionists. The Accreditation Commission for Traffic Accident Reconstruction (ACTAR) was the result of that coalition. The Governing Board of Directors is comprised of one representative from each participating organization. The governing board includes police officers, engineers, educators and private consultants all working in the field of traffic accident investigation and reconstruction within the United States and Canada.

Ongoing goal to promote training in the field

ACTAR was founded by and exists for the benefit of the traffic accident investigation and reconstruction community. The Commission is not obligated to nor controlled by any governmental body or agency. Since its incorporation in 1991, the ongoing goal of ACTAR has been to promote, within the legal and scientific community, recognition that an ACTAR Accredited Traffic Accident Reconstructionist has demonstrated competence with respect to the minimum training standards established by the NHTSA study. Incorporation of new developments in technology and industry trends assures the accreditation process is fresh and up to date.

The forensic science of accident reconstruction is constantly improving. ACTAR recognizes that the quality and standards of different training entities can vary. ACTAR offers an independent credentialing examination that objectively assesses a candidate’s comprehension and application of the minimum training standards of a forensic specialist in motor vehicle accident reconstruction.

The ACTAR Governing Board of Directors developed subcommittees to investigate the different aspects of accident investigation and reconstruction training programs, as well as reviews of other disciplines in the field. The ACTAR Governing Board of Directors used this information to develop minimum training and experience requirements. Using those minimum standards, the Governing Board of Directors developed a two-part accreditation examination. The examination was reviewed by outside independent professionals in the testing field, as well as educators, to ensure an objective, clear and thorough examination.

Although participation in the accreditation program is voluntary, people who are properly trained and experienced in accident investigation and reconstruction can successfully complete the examination and achieve accreditation. Those who are accredited must obtain a minimum of eighty continuing education units (CEUs) during a five year accreditation period in order to renew their accredited status with ACTAR.

An ACTAR Accredited Reconstructionist must agree to adhere to a Code of Conduct that must be signed before the individual is allowed to sit for the examination. If an accredited reconstructionist is sanctioned by a court, administrative board or professional licensure board they may have their accreditation revoked by the Governing Board of Directors.

Integrity, consistency, and professionalism

The recognition of ACTAR accreditation among those in the accident reconstruction industry as well as the legal community encourages the integrity, consistency and professionalism of those involved in traffic accident reconstruction. ACTAR accreditation promotes the professional and intellectual development of individuals, organizations and institutions involved in traffic accident reconstruction. ACTAR accreditation also assists the legal and scientific community in weighing the suitability of individuals offering their services as Accident Reconstructionists while improving public awareness of the profession as it relates to the legal system.