THE ACCREDITATION COMMISSION FOR TRAFFIC ACCIDENT RECONSTRUCTION (ACTAR)
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 crash reconstruction. A committee of accident reconstructionists, engineers, educators and attorneys met and developed a report titled, "Minimum Training Criteria for Police Traffic Accident Reconstructionists". In the final report issued in March 1987, the committee addressed the "ultimate certification of individuals" in the field of traffic crash reconstruction and recommended that a "certification board be formed" to certify traffic crash reconstructionists.
In September 1990, 12 representatives met in Chicago and ACTAR came to life. ACTAR, as it originally met, was a commission consisting of 1 delegate from each of 12 existing professional organizations in the field of traffic crash investigation and reconstruction. The original participating organizations represented at the formative meeting were:
- International Association of Accident Reconstruction Specialists (IAARS).
- Society of Accident Reconstructionists (SOAR).
- National Association of Professional Accident Reconstruction Specialists (NAPARS).
- National Association of Traffic Accident Reconstructionists and Investigators (NATARI).
- Canadian Association of Technical Accident Investigators and Reconstructionists (CATAIR).
- Midwest Association of Technical Accident Investigators (MATAI).
- Southwestern Association of Technical Accident Investigators (SATAI).
- Illinois Association of Technical Accident Investigators (IATAI).
- Indiana Society of Technical Accident Investigators and Reconstructionists (ISTAIR).
- Maryland Association of Traffic Accident Investigators (MATAI).
- Texas Association of Accident Reconstruction Specialists (TAARS).
- Washington Association of Technical Accident Investigators (WATAI).
At the conclusion of the first round of meetings, three important issues, among many discussed, were decided:
- The word "police" would be stricken from the name of the organization because the focus of the accreditation commission would not be limited to law enforcement,
- Any accreditation program created would be extended to those in the private sector as well as law enforcement, the Accreditation Commission for Traffic Accident Reconstruction (ACTAR) would be inclusive rather than exclusive, and
- The commission would move forward to create some manner of accreditation program acceptable to the different organizations as represented by the delegates.
Minimum criteria developed for the initial portion of certification included showing, via the application process:
- A minimum level of specific education and training in the field of traffic crash investigation and reconstruction.
- Demonstration of a minimum level of practical experience in the field,
- A showing that the applicant is keeping current with changing trends in the field, and
- Evidence that the applicant has been accepted in court to testify as an expert in the field.
There are currently 20 participating organizations with representatives on the Governing Board of Directors of ACTAR. In addition to the original 12 organizations participating, with the exception of ISTAIR, the following organizations have become participating organizations:
- Forensic Accident Reconstructionists of Oregon (FARO).
- New Jersey Association of Accident Reconstructionists (NJAAR).
- New York Statewide Traffic Accident Reconstruction Society (NYSTARS).
- Pennsylvania State Police (PSP).
- Michigan State Police (MSP).
- Colorado State Patrol (CSP).
- Central Missouri State University (CMSU).
- American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE).
- California Association of Accident Reconstruction Specialists (CA2RS).
As of January 2002, there are 767 accredited traffic crash reconstructionists from North America, Australia, United Arab Emirates and Japan. Additional information regarding ACTAR can be acquired by visiting the ACTAR web site at www.actar.org.