New report explores different approaches to road collision investigation

13.01 | 27 March 2019 | | 4 comments

The RAC Foundation has published a new report to help establish whether there is a case for investing more resource into the investigation of road crashes, in order to facilitate feedback and learning.

The report, ‘Models and Methods for Collision Analysis: A guide for policymakers and practitioners’, has been authored by professor Neville Stanton from the University of Southampton.

The report is the first in a series of technical notes and reports commissioned as part of the Road Collision Investigation Project, a £480k trial of new approaches to road collision investigation which was announced in June 2018 by the UK Government and is being led by the RAC Foundation.

The Road Collision Investigation Project is setting out to establish whether there is a business case for investing more resource into the investigation of road crashes, in a manner akin to that already in place for the rail, air and maritime sectors.

As part of the three-year project several police forces in England are recruiting additional staff to collect and collate collision data, which will be analysed to identify and understand common themes and patterns that result in death and serious injury.

Elizabeth Box, head of research at the RAC Foundation, said: “In order to test and trial a different approach to road collision investigation it is important to develop an understanding of the human factors and accident analysis models and methods used in other safety critical contexts.

“We hope that this report, and subsequent work, will be of interest to those responsible for identifying safety learning from incidents, and look forward to continuing the dialogue with a broad range of stakeholders as we continue to develop this project.”

Professor Stanton’s report describes how accident causation models have changed over time and details the rationale for taking a systems approach to collision investigation.

The report also presents a summary of key systemic human factors accident investigation models and human factors accident analysis methods, illustrated by a case study from the US where an Uber vehicle was involved in a collision with a pedestrian in March 2018.

Professor Stanton goes on to review eight different methods, and from this analysis recommends the ‘Actor Map’ and ‘AcciMap’ approaches.

He concludes that the next steps for the Road Collision Investigation Project should include: developing a classification scheme for Actor Maps and AcciMaps, and a matrix for the linking of events in AcciMaps; development of training materials for Actor Maps and AcciMaps, and conducting a pilot study of training in both methods.



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    Yet another case for academics to write papers on the blindingly obvious. And it is quite staggering that Hugh’s very salient comments have received +1 -10. Anyone who has done anything more than the standard driving test will quickly align with his comments which quickly summarised can be that most drivers are like the next crash waiting to happen. True. Very true.

    Nigel ALBRIGHT
    Agree (2) | Disagree (7)

    Yes forensic examinations rather that reliance of tick box forms and opinions.

    Trevor Baird
    Agree (13) | Disagree (0)

    Sorry Hugh I disagree. A true investigation would allow greater understanding of the underlying causes rather than the obvious immediate causes (lumped in as human failure). Why was the person tired, distracted? Why did they switch off a safety feature? Why were they driving too fast (work pressure?). What counter-measure might have prevented the crash in a better defined safe system?

    Of course, not every crash will be looked at and not every investigation will prove fruitful.

    By the way the report is very good.

    Peter, liverpool
    Agree (14) | Disagree (1)

    It’s not a mystery. With humans being allowed behind the wheel having undergone a relatively elementary test and then factor in carelessness and recklessness, you will inevitably have collisions. As far as I can see, investigating them even more, would not produce any earth-shattering conclusions.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (2) | Disagree (17)

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