Road Safety News

Government urged to create Road Collision Investigation Branch

Wednesday 22nd March 2017

The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) is calling on the Government to create a UK Road Collision Investigation Branch to boost efforts to reduce the number of road collisions and casualties.

In a press release issued today (22 March) to coincide with its annual conference, titled ‘Collision investigation: how can we learn more?’, PACTS is seeking an amendment to the Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill to pave the way for the new body.

The road safety charity Brake has applauded PACTS for highlighting ‘a vital issue at a pertinent time’, when the decline in road casualties has stalled.

Taking place in Westminster today, the PACTS’ conference will put the spotlight on road traffic investigations, and how the road safety sector can learn more from them.

Speakers will outline the case for improvements to current collision investigation systems, including the new challenges presented by driverless cars and increasing degrees of automation.

David Davies, decision-making director at PACTS, says the DfT already has dedicated accident investigation branches for air, rail and maritime - but not for road accidents.

He said: “The UK carries out some excellent collision investigation but it is fragmented and inconsistent.

“We need to learn from air and rail, harness the new technical opportunities, and bring together the efforts of researchers, police, coroners, local authorities and others more effectively. Other countries, such as the USA and Sweden, have such investigation bodies.

“It would not look at every collision but would focus on the most serious and those where lessons for preventing repeats seemed most likely. This is the approach of other investigation bodies.

“It would be about learning and would support, not replace, the crucial work of police collision investigators who are looking to see if there are grounds for prosecution.”

Brake says it has long-called for the establishment of a road casualty investigation branch in the UK and is wholly supportive of the immediate funding of this branch by Government,

Gary Rae, campaigns director, said: “Britain, with its reputation for road safety, has an opportunity, through the creation of this branch, to be at the forefront of global work in collision prevention through academic-led investigation into causes and countermeasures to stop deaths and serious injuries on Britain’s roads.

“This is the foundation of an intelligent approach to road collision reduction, at a time when, globally, the spotlight is on the unacceptable extent of road casualties and deaths.”

FOOTNOTE: the RSGB editorial team will be reporting live from the PACTS conference throughout the day once the conference gets underway at 9.30am.


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Without repeating myself...which I will.. You might be well within the law and travelling at 70 mph as shown on your speedometer but other drivers are aware that the police allow a latitude when it comes to actually reporting you for speeding and that is your speed plus 10% plus 2 mph and so whilst you are legally at your 70 mph others will be overtaking u you illegally at 79 mph without fear of punishment and a pat on the back from the Police.

That is certainly a bad state of affairs, anti road safety but is supported by the National Police Council.
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (3) | Disagree (6)

I regularly travel on the A14 to and from work, this is a typically busy road.

In the slow lane whether I am travelling at the same speed at the heavy goods vehicles, or at 70mph, there are always vehicles that overtake me, regardless of my speed. The vehicles in the outside lane more often than not, leave just one vehicle space between themselves and the car in front, at speed, playing mind games as if to push the vehicle in front even faster using an invisible force field.

Thoughtlessness and disregard for other road users (and their passengers), lack of good driving skills, manners and aggressive tactics are a recipe for disaster that will inevitably happen. Most mornings I travel at the same speed as the HGV lorries using the inside lane at a safe distance. I probably only lose just five minutes journey time and arrive completely stress free and alive to tell the tale.

This calls for education and an all media campaign, finger pointing at the utter stupidity and selfishness of these drivers, the only thing they deserve are the Darwin Award. The trouble is they take out the innocent by their senseless actions.

These drivers ignore regulations and common sense, perhaps a different tactic and time for pointing out Darwin drivers.
David Matthews Desborough - Crick Northamptonshire

Agree (5) | Disagree (0)

Following the train of thought of Hugh's initial piece, may I suggest that we look at the local fair where there are dodgem cars. This exemplifies just what is wrong on our roads. Too many dodgems at one side of a space hitting each other. On the other side out of the way of all this colliding, in greater space are other dodgem drivers that prefer not to be hit and are driving round out of the way of danger. If we were to concentrate more on educating drivers as to what is more like the Safe Following On distance then we would reduce the number of collisions quite dramatically.

There are many benefits to the giving of safe space not just the matter of tailgating. It goes further than that and is something all road users would benefit from......more time, more space, more vision, more time to react, more time to slow, more time to stop, more time to avoid, more time to turn round and it goes on.

Safe drivers are the ones that understand that space is important. It is in all advanced driving and riding.. except in overtakes where one can forget all about safe space in order to expedite a quicker overtake.
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (7) | Disagree (0)

I'm aware that I comment perhaps too frequently for some sometimes, but pondering a concept can trigger further thoughts.

So, might I suggest that if a RCIB is to be set up which, as I understand it, would not be obliged to investigate/attend every incident (as the Police might have to), they start initially with collisions where a dashcam and/or event recorder was present, which at least would accurately and independently inform 'what happened?' - that's before we even get to the 'how?', 'why? and 'whose fault?' stage. At present, investigations may be frustrated by the absence of impartial and reliable witnesses and the all-important behaviour up to the moment of impact may not be ascertained accurately enough.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (0) | Disagree (1)

Hugh, your point exemplifies the problem. Where the police may well conclude that carelessness and/or recklessness are principle factors, an RCIB investigation may conclude that the main problem was the inability of the infrastructure to tolerate or mitigate such likely and clearly foreseeable and predictable human behaviour, and may recommend improvements to make reoccurrence less likely or even virtually impossible.
Charles, England

Agree (12) | Disagree (6)

If by 'blame' we mean 'who was responsible?' or 'who was at fault?' then I can't see the point of a parallel investigation carried out by a body whose remit - as far as I can gather - is not specifically to ascertain blame. If the Police's role is to identify blame and possible prosecution, I would have thought their own investigations would be comprehensive enough for this. What could a Road Collision Investigation Branch expect to find out, that the Police wouldn't? I would expect an RCIB to discover that carelessness and/or recklesness are principle factors in colisions which we knew anyway.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (6) | Disagree (5)

From the Air Accidents Investigation Branch website: "Our purpose is to improve aviation safety globally by determining the causes of air accidents and serious incidents, and making safety recommendations intended to prevent recurrence. It is not to apportion blame or liability."

In the UK where fault, blame and liability form the underpinnings of the management of road safety, it's unlikely that a road accident investigation branch will ever see the light of day.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (9) | Disagree (3)

Casualty rates are as important statistics as casualty numbers. (Ref source: A Motorcycle Safety & Transport Policy Framework page 27). So, in the meantime before the UK Road Collision Investigation Branch is formed, why doesn't the UK Government re-instate the production of the full set of Road Casualties Great Britain statistics as the experts tell me it is necessary these days to calculate casualty rates from a number of tables. That could be a quick win.
Pat, Wales

Agree (14) | Disagree (1)

There is a potential stumbling block with this idea though. To be able to investigate road incidents in a similar way to that which the Air Accidents Investigation Branch investigates air incidents, any data collected by the new RAIB would have to have the same confidentiality status as that collected by the AAIB, and so not be available to the police, or anyone else. I'm guessing that certain "road safety" "charities", amongst others, will struggle with the concept of no blame investigations.
Charles, England

Agree (10) | Disagree (4)

Here's an idea - instead of trying to find out how and why collisions happen after the event, why not establish how and why they don't happen - before they don't happen? Sounds cryptic I know, but as one of the speakers at the conference (currently in progress) has apparently highlighted, we can probably learn a lot more from near misses. It's less traumatic and there's far more of them to witness first-hand everyday.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (7) | Disagree (4)

This 'no-blame' approach is really important to learn more about road collisions in order to accelerate casualty reduction in the UK. Really hope it goes through.
Matt Staton, Cambridgeshire

Agree (15) | Disagree (1)