Traffic re-constructionists seeking to determine speed at impact often begin by measuring skid marks. Modern cars, equipped with anti-lock braking systems, are designed to not leave such marks, which makes it difficult if not impossible to collect this measurement on scene. When a vehicle halts rapidly, however, a significant amount of friction is created between the tire and pavement, leaving thermal signatures that can linger up to 30 minutes or longer after the collision. A thermal imager can point to the warmest marks, likely indicating those that were left most recently, yielding another piece to the puzzle of the accident.
Search and Rescue
A thermal imager can help officers search large areas in short order. Over clear terrain, that gives the rescuer a search circle over one-half mile in diameter. A thermal imager eases search efforts in large fields, at parks, near roadways, and even in wooded areas. Searches near bodies of water also offer opportunities to use a thermal imager. As long as the victim is not completely submerged, his body heat should be detected by the thermal imager. By combining use of the thermal imager with the use of spotlights and flashlights, officers can search on and around bodies of water more quickly and more effectively.
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Law enforcement officers can learn to use thermal imagers to detect thermal irregularities. Split fuel tanks, hollow body panels that are stuffed full, loaded tires, and even automotive body fillers and putties are identifiable under a thermal inspection. Anything that does not appear to be normal can provide a clue leading an officer to investigate further.