HAVE you ever wondered what the role of a crash investigator is?
In short, it is to determine the cause and effect of the crash, and in doing so, to identify any criminal negligence.
Crash investigators also aim to identify contributing factors that may lead to strategies to prevent similar crashes in the future.
One of the crash investigators at NSW Police's Metropolitan Crash Investigation Unit, constable Matt Wright said his team attended collisions where an indictable charge had to be placed on someone for causing serious injury or death.
He said when a crash happens, general duties officers were the first to attend.
"They assess if we are required. They contact the duty operations manager in the community and that person will call our unit's referral officer who will then speak to officers at the scene to see if we get deployed," he said.
"A lot of the time, by the time we arrive at the scene the urgency of the situation is one-hour old."
Constable Wright said his team then forensically processed the scene and took photos.
"We measure the scene and use forensic imaging on a trimble machine to map out the scene," he said.
"We interview drivers and witnesses and, when required, take legal action. We also prepare briefs and reports for the coroner."
While investigators can remain at a site for up to two hours, it is never easy for them to deal with a horrific scene.
When asked how constable Wright carried out his investigations when surrounded by emotional family and friends who had lost loved ones, he said he had to remain focused.
"I treat it as a job rather than get too involved in the family's emotions," he said.
"The loss of a family member is important for them but for us, it's about getting the facts which helps them with closure."
Another crash investigator, senior constable Deborah Lansom, who has been with the unit for two years, is investigating a Villawood crash that left a young man dead on September 6.
She said she was in the process of getting witness statements.
"We try to get most matters done in three months," she said.
"But they can go on for a lot longer. If I suspect a person has a medical condition we get the person's records from Medicare to see if its had an impact.
"That might take up to six months."
The 29-year-old said each crash scene was different and there were times when investigators had to handle family members who have lost loved ones when they arrived at the site.
"We're not on anyone's side. It's important to remain independent," she said.
"Being understanding and patient is how I try to handle most of the families, as well as keeping them up to date with what's going on.
"I can also refer them the support that they need and most are happy to get that."
Both crash investigators are passionate about promoting road safety.
Senior constable Lansom went to Tamworth recently for a Young Drivers Expo, lecturing high school students about the importance of safe driving.
"I'm happy to do anything I can to get the message across," she said.
"I'm also very passionate about giving them education that a vehicle is a weapon and so easily can kill them or someone else."
Another crash investigator and mother, senior constable Kerrie Boyd, who has been with the unit for nearly seven years, said it was pivotal to inform young drivers, in particular P-platers, about the importance of road safety.
"A lot of them think they're 10ft tall, bulletproof and untouchable, and they have the mentality that it will never happen to them," she said.
"It's important they know it's not a right to get your licence. It's a privilege."
Senior constable Boyd said she would like drivers whose actions resulted in a fatality to "understand what it's like to knock on someone's door and tell them a loved one is gone".