Product Validation Offering

Making Car Crash Reporting As Painless As Possible for Police

CARFAX and 3Pillar Global have teamed up on a wide range of B2C and B2B digital solutions going back more than a decade. It only made sense, then, that we were the first call they made when they were looking for a partner to help envision and validate a new digital product for police to use in the immediate aftermath of car crashes.

Car accidents are high-stress, high-risk situations, not just for the parties involved but also for the police officers who respond. Officers are tasked with capturing copious amounts of driver and vehicle information at the scene of the crash, in addition to determining which driver was at fault. They’re under intense pressure to do all of this quickly so that roads can be safely cleared and traffic backups can be minimized.


CARFAX’s idea was to design a digital solution that could be used by police officers at crash sites in as many states as possible. One of the main difficulties in doing so was that each state has its own set of rules and regulations around how crash information should be collected and reported. Some states’ reporting starts with and centers around the drivers involved, and some states’ reporting starts with and centers around the vehicles involved.

This meant there was no easy one-size-fits-all way to design an intuitive interface that worked for everyone. CARFAX also wasn’t sure that there was an overwhelming need for such a product in the first place, so they asked for 3Pillar’s help in figuring out if this idea was worth pursuing.

CARFAX eCrash on mobileSOLUTION

As part of our Product Validation offering, we conducted three rounds of user research with police officers. We wanted to determine if they had the need for such a product and, if so, what functionality would be most helpful for them as they navigated crash sites.

Our research uncovered that police did, indeed, have a need for such a tool. The main way such an app could help, we found, was to speed up the information-gathering process at the scene of an accident. Existing options had officers completing either a paper-based form or that same form recreated on mobile devices, tablets, and in-car computers. This meant that they were still required to manually input data like VIN numbers, license plate numbers, and driver’s license information. These solutions didn’t come close to leveraging the clear-cut time-saving capabilities that digital solutions can and should provide.

CARFAX eCrash on laptop


Our Product Validation work uncovered a number of key insights that were incorporated into the product that became CARFAX eCrash. The first was that the amount of manual input and documentation required at the scene was far and away the most time-consuming part of preparing an accident report. Based on 3Pillar’s knowledge of VIN-scanning capabilities we’d built into other CARFAX apps, we were able to validate that the capability to scan a car’s VIN, plus scan driver’s licenses and other key information, could drastically reduce necessary time at the scene.

Another key insight we uncovered helped unlock the state-by-state information-gathering challenge. By listening to the way police officers entered information and introducing a step-by-step data collection process that was agnostic to whether states focused on drivers or vehicles, we were able to recommend a solution that was suitable across any and all locations.

The final result of our work was not just validation that the product CARFAX envisioned was worth building, it was an application that was also highly informed by the insights we uncovered during the user research process. CARFAX estimates that eCrash cuts the time it takes to document an accident in half, leading to a far more streamlined post-accident experience for all.

“I don’t make recommendations lightly. You have full-stack capabilities and provide us great advice.”

– Aaron Hall, Director of Product Services, CARFAX