Using infrared light to visualize tire marks on clothing

Carys O'Sullivan, Colum McCarthy, Felicity Carlysle-Davies

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The value of trace evidence in a vehicle-pedestrian collision has been widely reported in forensic science. However, one evidence type that is routinely overlooked is tire marks (e.g., in traffic collision investigations). When an individual is run over by a vehicle, tire marks may be deposited on the clothing. These marks are generally unclear and difficult to visualize in natural light, yet very little research has focused on their enhancement. This work is one of the first to demonstrate the ability of infrared (IR) light to enhance tire marks on clothing. Various clothing items were driven over at a controlled speed and then visualized in IR using both the Video Spectral Comparator VSC6000/HS and the Crime-lite 82S. IR allowed visualization of numerous tire marks, 73% of which were not previously visible in normal white light. IR was also able to considerably improve the clarity of pattern details, even for marks that were visible in white light. The Video Spectral Comparator was compared to the Crime-lite 82S in its ability to enhance tire marks on clothing and was determined to have better visualization, more consistency, and less interference from shadows. This research has highlighted the ability of IR to improve visualization of this evidence type that may otherwise remain undetected.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-337
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Forensic Identification
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2023


  • tire marks
  • marks on clothing
  • infrared
  • Video Spectral Comparator®
  • Crime-lite®
  • road traffic collision
  • alternative light sources


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