How new technology helps metro police departments piece deadly crash scenes back together

ATLANTA — They cause a mess, tie up traffic, and create a major loss for families. Deadly crashes are at a record high nationwide.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that Georgia saw a 12.4% increase in deadly crashes in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the same time in 2021.

The Marietta Police Department’s Traffic Enforcement Unit showed Triple Team Traffic’s Mike Shields how they piece together crash scenes following a collision.

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Sgt. Brian Honea said speed is always one of the first factors that are on his mind.

“Drivers need to slow down,” he said. “I think when they first came back out there wasn’t as much traffic. Now, you’re increasing traffic and people are driving faster.”

Police are also noticing more distracted driving. Cell phones are a main contributing factor, but it is not the only issue.

“Whether it be you’re driving down the road and you got your lap dog in your lap - or people are driving down the road and putting their makeup on - or playing with the radio station,” Honea said.


Honea told Shields anything that takes a driver’s attention from the roadway becomes a dangerous problem.

Technology helps officers investigate and clear crash scenes. Officer Nicholas St. Onge explained drones are a huge benefit letting them get what they need on scene and traffic moving more quickly.

“We can shut down a roadway for 15 minutes and have it reopened and have a full-scale diagram of a crash,” St. Onge said.

Investigators also use a 3D scanner to recreate the vehicle and see what may have happened.

Often, crash investigations will lead to traffic backups. St. Onge asks metro Atlanta drivers for patience saying.

“We have to get a complete picture of that scene, and this is likely our only chance to do that.”

That information plays a critical role not only in the outcome of the investigation but those whose lives have been changed forever.

Honea said it’s a job that he and other officers do not take lightly.

“If we are going and knocking on a door at two in the morning and basically breaking the heart of some family member, telling them their loved one is not coming home. I don’t want to just leave them with that. I want to be able to answer as many questions as they have about what happened to their loved one as humanly possible.”

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