New website gives public access to crash data

08.32 | 29 September 2011 | | 17 comments

A new website has been launched which gives members of the public details of every road traffic crash reported to police since 2005.

Using ‘’, users can locate crashes in a particular area, see what date they occurred on and how serious the incident was. A detailed collision report can also be downloaded.

CrashMap uses data collected by the police about road traffic crashes occurring on British roads where someone is injured. This data is approved by the National Statistics Authority and reported on by the DfT each year.

According to CrashMap, the data will allow interested residents, councils and transport professionals to secure the information they need.

Click here for more information or email:


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    No. I don’t agree with J. Wall, nor, I suspect would the Rail Accident Investigation Branch, the Air Accident Investigation Branch or the Marine Accident Investigation Branch, to say nothing of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

    The existence of these bodies suggests that accidents, far from being trivialised, are being taken extremely seriously indeed.

    The law has little to do with the matter. As I indicated earlier, the manner of its “enforcement” can actually be counter-productive.

    An accident remains an accident, although one may occasionally find that a failure to comply with some regulation may be taken to have contributed to it. For many people that may be the end of the matter. For those of us who are actually involved in the accident reduction effort, however, it may only be a starting point.

    Andrew Fraser
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    Why Road Traffic Incidents/Crashes should not and must not be referred to as ‘accidents’.

    The correct use of terminology is absolutely vital in influencing attitudes towards Road Traffic Incidents and the carnage and devastation caused.

    I am sure you will agree that we all have a duty and responsibility not to use slogans, signs, terminology or language which is inappropriate, incorrect, misleading, or is insensitive, insulting, or causes distress or offence.

    Road Traffic Incidents/Crashes should not and must not be referred to as ‘accidents’. The terminology ‘accident’ (in this context) is making the assumption that it was without apparent cause, which is Incorrect, Inappropriate and is Grossly Misleading – It is insulting, insensitive, deeply offensive, deeply distressing to the Bereaved parents and families of Innocent Victims Killed by other users, and compounds the overwhelming grief, devastation and trauma.

    By using the term ’Road Traffic ‘Incident/Collision/Crash – It does not apportion blame, but rather states a fact and may be used in all cases regardless of how the Incident occurred.

    I am sure that you will agree that the Terminology ‘accident’ trivialises the enormity of a Road Traffic Incident in every sense and is extremely detrimental to the commission of raising awareness about Road Safety and in changing attitudes towards safe driving.

    I am sure you will agree that If Road Traffic Incidents were given the same respect, importance and consideration as other crimes against the person, and as that of Rail Crashes and Air Crashes, the public would be informed immediately that the Incident had occurred, of causalities and kept updated – as we should when people have been killed or injured in such horrific, violent and brutal circumstances. If Road Traffic Incidents were treated in this way, we would see a call for zero tolerance for criminal driving behaviour.

    I am sure you will agree that it is a complete contradiction to use the terminology ‘accident’ when the law has been broken, and even more so when motorists have caused death, maiming or injury whilst in the commission of committing one or more criminal motoring offences.

    There is no other criminal act, which does not hold the person who has caused the death of another responsible and accountable for the consequences of their actions.

    I am sure you will agree that the correct use of Terminology/Words is so important, because the words we use and the context in which we use words reflect our attitudes and beliefs.

    J. Wall – Norfolk
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    In industrial Health and Safety an accident is “a series of unplanned unexpected circumstances which conspire together to cause loss or injury”.
    A near miss is the same definition but does not result in injury.

    This means that all accidents except acts of God can be investigated and the cause almost always determined. It is usually not one cause but several and can be many.

    The public perception of the word accident is that no one is to blame, a misnomer!

    Stewart McCarthy Lincolnshire County Council
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    The holy grail is the complete elimination of road traffic accidents. I do not immediately see how this new web-site will help; Dave Finney’s remarks are pertinent.

    Regarding terminology, I have still not heard an honest argument based on sound premises for the apparently ever-widening range of alternatives to “accident”.

    This has served us well since the government decided that a scientific approach to the problem was required.
    We need to be careful that we do not now return to a less rational approach.

    I do not understand the remarks about RoadPeace’s aim.

    1. What cultural change is it hoping to achieve?
    2. How will changing the meanings of a range of words help to achieve its cultural aim?

    Andrew Fraser STIRLING
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    At the risk of breaking with convention and actually making a comment about the website in question, it strikes me that it will be useful to some members of the public who are little concerned with our very professional arguments about terminology. I recently had cause to try and get some data about collisions at a controlled crossing out of concern for my children’s safety – the ability to search, locate and pay £4 for the 5 collision records I needed would have been well spent.

    There are more robust analysis tools available to genuine professionals no doubt, but helping the public to engage on road safety; is that not the holy grail?

    Stephen, Oxford
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    Anyone who has lost a family member to road trauma as I have (my son Nathan, aged 22, was run over and killed 23rd December 2000) will understand why the “A” word is offensive. I accept that it is general terminology in the unknowing general public and I would have innocently used it years ago. However, Merseyside police with whom I have a close association, other emergency services and road safety officers have long since adopted collision, crash, incident, as more truly reflecting the event since they do not prejudge whether or not there is associated blame. We at RoadPeace are constantly battling to get the media to assist in making this cultural change. It is not easy. Please check out for more information.

    David Midmer, grade 6 ADI and fleet driver trainer, Wirral
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    I am extremely concerned by the words we use. It is a professional duty to support honest argument and that means choosing words that are as free from emotive connotations as possible.

    There is nothing to be gained from calling speed limit enforcement cameras (SLECS) anything other than speed limit enforcement cameras.

    I can confirm from my own experience that these were imposed on us as a matter of policy, nothing else. It follows therefore that the term “safety camera” may simply be a device intended to make them more acceptable to the less well-informed.

    If my experience of red light cameras at a level crossing in which I have been interested for some time is anything to go by, camera enforcement has simply held up progress for (in this particular case) more than 10 years. And yes, I am fairly sure that there have been fatalities as a consequence. It is difficult to be entirely sure in an arena where there does not appear to be complete openness and honesty.

    To refer to these cameras as “safety” cameras is, therefore, not only disingenuous, but actually dangerous.
    Concerning the terminology surrounding the phenomena in which we are interested, ACCIDENTS, it may be that doctors have made a change, but I am not aware of solicitors having done so and the other profession (of which I am a member) certainly has not. Anyone suggesting otherwise is, at best, mistaken.

    Engineers, who are responsible for providing the infrastructure and, in particular, municipal engineers, upon whom the roads authorities’ duty to study road accidents falls, are acutely aware of the need for clear thinking on the matter.

    An accident is an unexpected or undesirable event, especially one causing injury or damage. Could anything be more neutral?

    There is no suggestion that an accident cannot be prevented. If there was, why would we still have a Royal Society dedicated to the Prevention of ACCIDENTS?

    No-one is, or has ever been, left to assume that accidents just happen, that they may be someone’s fault or that they cannot be prevented.

    It seems clear from one of the comments below, that the author’s choice of “collision” is associated with a natural human desire to attribute blame.

    Now, it is certainly the painful duty of the reporting officer to try to attribute blame (or fault) in a legal sense, but it is difficult to see what that contributes to accident reduction.

    What’s far more important is that the officer is encouraged, and provided with the best possible tools, to collect accurate data on the circumstances of the accident, ALL the vehicles involved and the resultant casualties.

    Human beings cannot be infallible – that is their nature and it is not their fault.

    That is why the application of the “principle” of “strict liability” (as is the case with red light cameras at level crossings) is quite wrong.

    Nothing is to be gained by playing the blame game – all it does is get in the way of those of us who wish to pose the vital question, “Why did X do what he did?”

    We MUST study the ACCIDENT, not merely the collision (if there is one).

    After all, it is to ACCIDENTS that the legislation (very wisely) refers.

    There are many other reasons for retaining ACCIDENT – I have presented them to the relevant authorities from time to time and have yet to receive an adverse comment and I have still to hear of any argument based on sound premises for a change to any other term.

    To make such a change without sound argument suggests an absence or loss of the intellectual rigour required on the part of those making the change.

    One should not blame them for that, but on being asked “Why?”, one might expect a reversion if the answer proved unsatisfactory – as they have to date. Some, sadly, have simply ignored the question, possibly because it is too much to ask of an organisation that may be insufficiently mature or professional to accept the small degree of criticism involved.

    As to language evolving, I suspect that that is quite a different matter from making careless use of it. Ultimately, there are dictionaries, although for guidance on the “Straight and Crooked Thinking” involved in the current discussion, it is interesting to note that Thouless’ work of the same name has recently been re-published. I commend it to all visitors to this site.

    Kindest regards to all commentators. At least, you care sufficiently to put your heads above the proverbial parapet!

    Andrew Fraser STIRLING
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    Crashmap does look easy to use but trying to register suddenly faced with a huge cost to access the reports, the cheapest option being £60 to see 100 reports – if I’ve understood correctly. Any serious research would likely cost a ridiculous sum.

    Are the reports complete including Police officers full stats19 report and contributory factors?

    Suppose the report paid for is of minimal use with no contributory factors? Can you get a refund?

    If the cost was £5 to view all reports for a month it would be reasonable but that price seems extortionate.

    Words are influential, as Honor and Andrew argue, and that may be why those with a political or financial incentive attempt to manipulate those words we use.

    Therefore we should always try to use “neutral” words, and resist those that try to infiltrate opinion by using words with emotional or political connotations.

    The word “crash” does imply a big impact, yet many PIAs would not be described by most as a crash, and even fatals can be very low speed collisions.

    The word “accident” does imply a natural, unintended, unfortunate incident so may have some political connotations, although suppose a collision is deliberate? Is that a PIA, or is it excluded from stats19 as it’s a crime?

    I prefer “collision” because it is neutral and can be anything from bumping a gatepost at 2mph all the way to a fatal at 130mph, although I accept a collision could well include several separate impacts.

    But if we are concerned over correct use of words would we support a campaign to change safety cameras to enforcement cameras? And correct “in the public interest” by changing to “in the government’s interest”?

    Dave Finney – Slough
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    Setting aside questions of grammar, upon which I am not particulary well qualified to comment, the phrase “crashes are no accident” is an intriguing one, especially when “we” are all supposed to know it!
    A crash is a sound – a quick look through the dictionary will confirm that – so I suppose there’s some truth in it, IF that’s what the author meant. I don’t think he does though – and I invite him to clarify.

    Andrew Fraser STIRLING
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    Aeroplanes and railway trains become involved in accidents from time to time. During these accidents crashing sounds may be heard. That is not an argument, however, for re-naming “accidents” as “crashes”.

    Andrew Fraser STIRLING
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    The argument implied below that, because 3 emergency services, etc., refer to accidents as collisions or crashes is false, as is almost any similar argument on the lines, “because many do it, all should”.

    Andrew Fraser STIRLING
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    The professions changed from “accident” to crash or collision some years ago now. This is because almost all collisions and crashes are the result of someones actions or inactions, therefore they are not “accidents” they are actually consequences. Using the term “accident” leaves people to assume that these things just happen, are nobody’s fault and can’t be prevented. None of which is true, hence the change in terminology to the more accurate descriptions of crashes and collisions. Terminology is important and does influence peoples thoughts and understanding so I fully support the use of the correct terminology on this website. The media will follow as will general public conversational use of these words in time – as any advertising executive can tell you, it works. If you think about some of the terms that were in general use twenty or thirty years ago that would now be considered incorrect or worse, you will se what I mean. Language evolves and it is entirely correct for professions to influence usage to improve accuracy and thus influence behaviour.

    Honor Byford, North Yorkshire
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    The site’s design is elegant, as far as I can see, but I fear that, far from being transparent, it may conceal some of the defects of the STATS19 system. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able see the sample report(s)(?) yet and can only say that there appears to be some difficulty with the vehicles reported.

    There shouldn’t be, of course, if the site has been peer-reviewed. I may have gained a false impression.

    What do others think?

    Andrew Fraser STIRLING
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    The media are quite correct. No sound argument has yet been made for the change in terminology which is being forced upon us. One wonders whether its proponents realise the damage they are doing – or whether Ben Webster’s suggestion is correct.

    Andrew Fraser STIRLING
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    Accident is only used by the media these days; collision is the industry term although crash is probably better for public use. I like the website a lot and think it really promotes the government’s transparency agendas.

    Richard – Leicestershire
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    If all 3 emergency services, the DfT and the majority of services now use the correct description of a collision / crash, why should the general public not get used to it? Is it not about time they were weaned off the incorrect word? Planes and trains don’t have accidents they crash. And I think we all know that crashes are no accident.

    Stuart Howarth, Rochdale
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    It is a concern to note that the term ACCIDENT appears to be missing from the description of the above website. Is it not vitally important that a site aimed at the public, particularly, should use appropriate terminology? The impression this creates is one of a lack of understanding of the nature of the phenomena in question.

    Andrew Fraser, STIRLING
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