Government urged to set up road collision investigation branch

22/03/2017
Highways Reporters

The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) is calling on the Department for Transport to set up a UK Road Collison Investigation Branch in order to help bring down the number of deaths and injuries on the roads.

PACTS says it will be seeking an amendment to the Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill to pave the way for the new body, saying driverless cars and increasing degrees of automation in current models create new challenges and opportunities for collision investigators.

“The time has come to set up a UK road collision investigation body. We have dedicated Accident Investigation Branches [of DfT] for air, rail and maritime but not for road accidents. 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,” says David Davies, Decision-making Director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety.

“It would not look at every collision but would focus on the most serious and those where lessons for preventing repeats seemed most likely," he adds.  "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.”

Davies explains that, “The number of deaths on GB roads was 1,730 in 2015. This far exceeds those in rail, air and maritime combined. And since 2010 they have reduced very little. We need to learn more about how to prevent them.”

The amendments to European vehicle safety regulations [The EU General Safety Directive] as proposed by the European Commission would require new vehicles to be fitted with a “black box” that would provide crucial information in the event of a crash.
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