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The California Highway Patrol

Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Teams

    Aerial view of large collision

    The California Highway Patrol's (CHP) Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team (MAIT) Program was established in 1979. The severity and intricacy of traffic collisions dictated the need for more intensive investigations to determine subtle collision and injury causes.

    The objective of the MAIT Program is to provide CHP with the means to conduct in-depth investigations and analyses of major traffic collisions throughout the state. Investigations include the reconstruction of an incident and a study of the factors that may have contributed to the incident. The factors include environmental, human and mechanical and are associated with the three phases of a collision which are pre-collision, at-collision and post-collision. The ultimate objective of the program is the utilization of these identified causation factors to prevent collisions of a similar nature from recurring.

    The current MAIT Program consists of teams based in CHP Division offices located in Redding (Northern Division), Sacramento (Valley Division), Fresno (Central Division), Vallejo (Golden Gate Division), Los Angeles (Southern Division), San Luis Obispo (Coastal Division), San Bernardino (Inland Division), and San Diego (Border Division).

    Each team consists of investigators with specialized training in traffic collision reconstruction, traffic engineering, automotive engineering, and vehicle dynamics. MAITs are composed of one CHP sergeant (the team leader), two or more CHP officers, one Motor Carrier Specialist I (MCS I), and one Senior Transportation Engineer from Caltrans.

    • The team leader determines the scope and direction of each investigation and coordinates team efforts.
    • MAIT officers are trained in the physics of collision analysis and reconstruction, occupant kinematics (human factor analysis), vehicle dynamics (collision damage analysis), scene photography, the use of surveying and scanning equipment, Computer-Aided Design software and Computer Scanning Software. Officers also conduct detailed interviews and interrogations and assist the MCS I with mechanical inspections. In addition to the officers assigned directly to the team, MAIT associates are used whenever possible. Associates are qualified officers assigned to CHP Area offices and are available to the MAIT Program on an on-call basis.
    • The MCS I is responsible for conducting in-depth mechanical inspections of involved vehicles and for the completion of related reports.
    • Caltrans Senior Transportation Engineers have educational and technical knowledge which allows them to conduct in-depth investigations into the environmental factors and roadway conditions at the incident scene.

    Map with CHP Div. office locations - see 'uniforms.html' for a list
    MAIT staff surveying a collision involving a semi-truck

    The two categories of MAIT investigations include full and limited. In a full investigation, the team handles all aspects of a traffic collision investigation and their report is the original report. During a limited investigation, the team handles a specific aspect of a traffic collision and their report is a supplemental to an original report. The case workload is dictated not only by the number of requests from the CHP and allied agencies, but also the complexity and level of each investigation.

    MAIT investigations can include, but are not limited to, information such as:

    • Roadway Description
    • Driver Profiles
    • Autopsy and Injury Description
    • Physical Evidence Description
    • Physical Evidence Diagram
    • Physical Evidence Analysis
    • Vehicle Damage Description
    • Mechanical Inspection
    • Velocity Calculations
    • Dynamics Diagram
    • Time-Position Analysis
    • Collision Sequence
    • Conclusions
    • Recommendations

    Other responsibilities of the MAIT Program include the support of its investigations through the criminal and civil litigation processes. Additionally, MAIT personnel are frequently called upon to provide support during the trial process by providing information regarding any phase of MAIT operations to the CHP or any other state or public entity. MAITs also assist the CHP's Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) with the documentation of physical evidence at officer involved shooting incidents and assist the Office of Air Operations with aircraft collision investigations.

    Since the program's inception, MAIT personnel have conducted over 3,100 investigations. The expertise exemplified in each investigation by the team members has contributed to the CHP's reputation as being one of the country's leading authorities in the field of collision reconstruction despite the diversity of cases encountered. MAIT services and resources continue to support CHP and allied agency investigations.

    Frequently Asked Questions: Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team


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