‘No blame learning’ key to achieving Vision Zero

11.13 | 16 November 2021 | | 3 comments

“There is a huge number of dedicated and passionate professionals who are doing their utmost to improve road safety in the UK, but without the coordination that a Road Collision Investigation Branch can provide…a lot of the excellent work that is currently taking place will not have maximum impact.”

That is the conclusion in a keynote presentation delivered by Elizabeth Box as part of the Festival of Road Safety on Wednesday 10 November.

In the presentation, Liz Box, head of research at the RAC Foundation, looks at what a Road Collision Investigation Branch in the UK could achieve.

The presentation is based on an ongoing DfT and National Highways funded road collision investigation project, that is due to complete in spring 2022.

The £1m project, being carried out by the RAC Foundation, has developed and trialled, with several police force areas, a different approach to identifying and understanding common themes and patterns that result in death and injury on the public highway.

The presentation outlines the learnings that have come from the project to date, and discusses what a Road Collision Investigation Branch could seek to achieve if one were established in the UK.

In her concluding remarks, about 17 mins into the presentation, Liz says: “If we are serious about achieving Vision Zero, it really is vital that we seek to learn the lessons from incidents on the road network. Without a feedback loop dedicated to no blame learning we are not going to get much further in reducing KSIs on our roads – and this becomes even more important with the changing road environment in future years.”

Catch up on Weeks 1 & 2 and look ahead to Weeks 3 & 4
All of the content from the first two weeks is available to view free of charge on the Festival website. The programmes for weeks 3 and 4 can also be found on the website.

The 2021 Festival of Road Safety is being organised by Road Safety GB and sponsored by Jenoptik. For more information contact either Nick Rawlings or Edward Seaman by email or on 01379 650112.



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    I think there is a difference between identifying blame or responsibility for a collision occuring in the first place.. as opposed to who may, or may not have been, responsible for measures which might have reduced the severity of the collision once it had happened e.g the effectiveness of seat belts in side impacts and highway fences.

    In terms of casualty reduction, once a collision has happened, yes, these are relevant and their ineffectiveness may not be anyone’s ‘fault’ and therefore no blame may be attributed, but it is not strictly Road Collision Investigation – i.e. who did what and why etc. where, it seems to me that at least one party must be at fault and therefore to blame. Not investigating whose actions on the road caused a collision and therefore who is blameworthy does not seem to be a good way of learning to prevent them happening in the future.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (0) | Disagree (2)

    In response to Hugh, have a look at the presentation for some great examples. None of these examples allocate blame or fault but they do identify responsible parties for changing factors that could, if changed, influence the injury severity. Many factors are new so they are genuine blind spots . Equally many (eg highway boundary fences) are traditional weaknesses that go largely unnoticed at national level. The idea of a central body to illustrate reasonable counter measures is fantastic news.

    Peter Whitfield, Liverpool
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    It’s hard to imagine a road traffic collision where no-one was to blame. One or more road users are either reckless or careless – that is taken as read surely, so how would ‘no blame learning’ help ‘learn lessons from incidents’?

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (1) | Disagree (3)

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