Government launches Road Safety Investigation Branch

09.36 | 29 June 2022 | | 6 comments

Image: DfT

The Government has confirmed that a new independent body will be set up to investigate collisions on the country’s roads and provide insight into what needs to change to help save lives.

The Road Safety Investigation Branch (RSIB) will investigate themes in the causes of collisions, as well as specific incidents of concern, to learn valuable road safety lessons. 

The branch will make independent safety recommendations to organisations, such as Government and police forces, to better shape future policy. 

It will not identify blame or liability and so does not replace police investigation.

The specialised unit will also provide insight into safety trends related to new and evolving technologies, which could include self-driving vehicles, e-scooters and electric vehicles (EVs).

Baroness Vere, roads minister, said: “The UK may have some of the safest roads in the world, but tragedies still happen and any injury or death on our road network is one too many.

“That’s why we’re establishing the road safety investigation branch, so we can boost safety for road users even further and also bring safety measures in line with other modes of transport and the future of travel.”

The decision to establish a new branch follows a public consultation, which showed overwhelming support for the creation of such a branch, as well as for its powers and responsibilities. 

It has been widely welcomed by stakeholders, including Road Safety GB.

Matt Staton, director of research at Road Safety GB, said: “The establishment of the Road Safety Investigation Branch is a significant development for the road safety profession.

“Through independent investigation the organisation will provide greater understanding of crashes and will help to identify causes and spot collision trends.

“This work can then be used to guide prevention measures to ultimately reduce injury and loss of life. Road Safety GB’s members provide road safety delivery to local communities and look forward to supporting this new branch in improving road safety at a local level.”

Also supportive is the RAC Foundation, who over the past four years has run the Road Collision Investigation Project with funding from government and National Highways.

Steve Gooding, RAC Foundation director, said: “We have demonstrated the strong case for a fresh way of investigating death and injury on the road network, which is why we are delighted with this announcement.

“We look forward to working further with the government to get the branch set up and make our roads safer still.”

Bringing road safety in line with other modes of transport
Road collisions lead to significantly more deaths in Great Britain than those caused by other modes of transport, yet there is currently no independent body to investigate road incidents and their causes. 

The RSIB will bring road safety into line with similar independent bodies that already exist for air, maritime and rail accidents. 

Currently, data and evidence is collated using in-depth study programmes, the Collision Reporting and Sharing System (CRASH), Forensic Collision Investigation reports and Prevention of Future Death reports.

The Government expects the RSIB to use this data alongside that from insurance companies, vehicle manufacturers, the emergency services and the NHS to deepen the body of evidence on incident causes and improve road safety interventions even further nationwide.



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    Do the Police think we need a Road Accident Investigation Branch? Anybody know?

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (0) | Disagree (1)

    For several years, I have asked the question of what exactly a Road Accident Investigation Branch would actually do. Having read the above article, and the comments below, I am none the wiser. Baroness Vere claims that Government is ambitious about road safety, but that doesn’t ring true. For how long have we to wait before the implementation of ISA? What about GDL? I just wonder whether this will turn out to be an Road Accident Obfuscation Branch. Something for Government to hide behind?
    After all, the main contributory factors to road traffic accidents have been known for decades … and they do not necessarily include carelessness and/or recklessness.
    We all ought to know that the local authorities have long had the responsibility to study accidents on their roads and take measures to prevent them. And that local authorities are actually very close to the detailed facts (or at least, what STATS19 can tell them + what engineers are aware of in terms of driver psychology). How else would RTAs have reduced to the extent that they have since 1967, other than by their exercise of their duties?
    Those of us involved, by the way, did not and do not need our “feet held the fire”. We are perfectly capable of doing our job without being insulted in that way.
    So, it will be interesting to learn what the Road Safety Investigation Branch actually does … I really don’t understand what “investigate themes in the causes of [road traffic accidents]” means. I look forward to hearing more …

    Fraser Andrew, STIRLING
    Agree (3) | Disagree (1)

    The obvious difference between Highways injuries and those caused by DIY and gardening is that the former take place in the public domain. It is easily possible to escape injuries by incompetent gardeners by staying out of their gardens.

    Paul Luton, Teddington
    Agree (2) | Disagree (1)

    Where there has been a serious rail collision then it is expected that action would be taken to ensure that a similar even will not recur.
    The same duty should be placed on the relevant highways authority.

    Paul Luton, Teddington
    Agree (2) | Disagree (3)

    I think Hugh has misunderstood the remit of the new department. Because it will be arms length from DFT and other highway authorities, it will be able to make recommendations that cut across responsibility boundaries based on analysis of meta data across UK. The current reality is that DFT and highway authorities are quite remote from the detailed facts and they don’t have anyone holding their feet to the fire.

    Peter Whitfield, Liverpool
    Agree (6) | Disagree (1)

    Brilliant. How about also a Gardening Accident Investigation Branch or DIY Accident Investigation Branch or Household Accident Investigation Branch….the root causes are the same as accidents on the road i.e. carelessness and/or recklessness.

    Excuse the flippancy, but instead of multiple tiers investigating collisions to the nth degree, if the authorities want to learn more, why not simply ask those who have been involved in road collisions what they could have done to avoid them and similarly, ask those drivers who have never been involved in a collision what their ‘secret’ is. This latter group would (I sincerely hope) inlude those who are going to be part of the Road Accident Investigation Branch anyway plus, no doubt, many of the readers of RSGB whose job requirements are, amongst other things and perhaps needess to say, not to be involved in a collision.

    For instance, Colin Brown of MAG recently posted his opinion on Operation Snap and amongst other things, said “…my training as a motorcyclist focuses on taking responsibility for my own safety and ensuring that I don’t put myself at risk when someone else makes a mistake. The safest course of action is to assume everyone else is going to make a mistake or worse. This has meant that I have developed a sixth sense that allows me to very often predict the ‘mistakes’ of other road users before they make them. Naturally I make sure, as a vulnerable road user, that I am not in the way when the mistake is made.” This is quite right and is an excellent maxim for road safety professionals to endorse and promote.

    I don’t see how investigation of existing crashes to a greater degree than at present is going to improve our knowledge of how and why collisions happen. Much easier to just spend an hour or so watching driver/road user beahviour on a busy road and/or junction and observe the near misses and the ‘accident risk’ of the careless and reckless.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (4) | Disagree (16)

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