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Enhanced Tire Mark Visualization Using Polarization Imaging

[+] Author Affiliations
Matthew L. Schwall, Daniel E. Rosenfeld, Joel C. Wilson

Exponent, Inc., Menlo Park, CA

Paper No. IMECE2013-63953, pp. V015T12A003; 9 pages
  • ASME 2013 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 15: Safety, Reliability and Risk; Virtual Podium (Posters)
  • San Diego, California, USA, November 15–21, 2013
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5644-4
  • Copyright © 2013 by ASME


Accident reconstructions often rely on measurements of tire marks left on the roadway surface. However, accurate identification and measurement of these marks can be challenging when the marks are faint, as is often the case with braking marks left by vehicles equipped with anti-lock (ABS) brakes. This paper describes an image processing technique that exploits differences in the polarization of reflected light to create images that significantly enhance tire mark visualization. The technique requires multiple photographs taken from the same perspective, but with a polarizing filter oriented at different angles. Based on these digital images, the state of polarization of light can be determined for each pixel. A new image can then be created in which the intensity of the image is proportional to the state of light polarization. Results are presented using ABS tire marks, and demonstrate that under certain conditions the resulting image more clearly differentiates tire marks than conventional photographs or even contrast enhanced conventional photographs.

Copyright © 2013 by ASME



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