A fresh approach to crash investigation is required to help bring down death and injury on Britain’s roads, according to the RAC Foundation.
In a new research paper published today (20 Dec), Steve Gooding, RAC Foundation director, argues that a ‘tandem, no-blame system of investigation’ could help reduce road casualty numbers in the future.
Currently the police analyse what has happened after an accident with the aim of making a case against anyone deemed legally responsible.
Earlier this year, the Parliamentary Advisory Council on Transport Safety (PACTS) called on the Government to introduce a Road Collision Investigation Branch, similar to those already operating in the marine, aviation and rail sectors.
And at the recent 2017 National Road Safety Conference, Simon French, chief inspector of the Rail Accident Investigation Branch, drew comparisons between accident investigation in rail and road and discussed how the principles of independent accident investigation might be applied to the road sector (watch the presentation).
Steve Gooding said: “The creation of a dedicated analytical unit within the DfT should be relatively quick and easy to set up, and while not being independent nor having the resource to conduct individual investigations could still compile, collate and analyse the huge amount of information already collected.
“If DfT provided some modest seed corn funding it would be possible to envisage a local or regional pilot involving one or more highway authorities and their associated police constabularies acting together on a voluntary basis.
“Not a model that would reveal the bigger, national picture, but still able to work through how to manage the tangle of civil and criminal liabilities.
“And then there’s the option of Highways England establishing a unit, directly funded but operating at arm’s length, to focus on the strategic road network.
“There comes a time in any long-running debate when an idea either runs out of steam or finally begins to gain traction.
“We believe that moment is near on the argument for developing a better way to investigate the causes of road crashes, and so we add the Foundation’s voice to those of PACTS and other safety organisations for this fresh ‘do-something’ option – an idea whose time has surely come.”