Report calls for independent Road Collision Investigation Branch

09.04 | 3 December 2020 | | 6 comments

A UK Road Collision Investigation Branch ‘should be established as an impartial investigator, independent from the existing judicial investigation process operated by the police’.

That is one of 13 recommendations to come out of a new report commissioned by the RAC Foundation to support the work being carried out by the Government-funded Road Collision Investigation Project (RCIP) – which the Foundation is leading on.

Launched in 2018, the RCIP’s remit is to establish whether there is a business case for investing more resources into the investigation of road crashes, in a manner akin to that already in place for the rail, air and maritime sectors.

The new report, authored by Saul Jeavons and Adrian Runacres of The Transafe Network, provides an international review of road collision investigation approaches.

The authors studied how countries as geographically, socially and economically diverse as Australia, Finland, India, Malaysia, Malta and the United States undertake post-collision analysis to learn wider lessons and help cut road deaths and injuries.

They conclude that a UK Road Collision Investigation Branch (RCIB) should be established as an impartial investigator with the power and resources to investigate “major incidents (i.e. of significant economic impact, as well as those involving injury and death)’ – and be given access to the scene of an incident as soon as possible after it occurs.

Among the other recommendations is that the RCIB should be allowed to question investigating police officers and undertake additional investigations of incidents that may have already been ‘closed’ from a police/judicial point of view.



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    Collisions may well be rare in the context of number of vehicles on the road and miles travelled, but the behaviour of road users which causes them isn’t and can be seen every day. How that behaviour manifests itself into an actual collision is academic and will be down to carelessness and/or recklesness e.g. taking one’s eye of the road, being distracted, going too fast, under the influence of alcohol etc.etc.or a combination of these – this has been known for decades and investigating each one to a greater degree than at present, seems unnecessary, especially now with the growing number of dash cams and CCTV systems and event recorders which vehicles have.

    The purpose of a police investigation of collisions is presumably with a view to prosecution – an impartial body without such powers seems pointless.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (2) | Disagree (7)

    The first thing that road safety professionals learn is that casualties/collisions are rare at least in the context of the billions of miles travelled every year. They are worthy of investigation and outside police circles. Stats19/20is not a report library it’s a collective of tick boxes that is only useful for basic purposes. It tells us nothing of root causes and how things could have been improved to reduce the future risk. If we reduce fatal injuries the cost of a new agency will be worthwhile

    Peter Whitfield, Liverpool
    Agree (7) | Disagree (16)

    One other thought: have the police themselves ever said that there needs to be another level of road collision investigation on the lines suggested and.. how do they feel about such a proposal?

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (10) | Disagree (0)

    > How would an independent body do this work any better?

    Because they’d be independent of any sort of judicial function. Would you give evidence to any body that would happily prosecute you for telling the truth?

    > are not really a mystery as to how they happen

    Scared it will point out that people aren’t trained enough?

    David Weston, Newcastle upon Tyne
    Agree (9) | Disagree (23)

    Accidents on water, rail and in the air are rare and unexpected and shouldn’t happen
    and do therefore justify investigation, whereas accidents on the roads with Joe Public behind the wheel, are to be expected, are not rare and are not really a mystery as to how they happen, so what is the point of a further tier of investigation? What more is there to learn?

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (21) | Disagree (5)

    I disagree. The Police have the expertise to do this already, it would be a misuse of govt. resources.

    What would be more useful is more detail in the reports as to causation or factors contributing with a probability statistic.
    RTC data that gets released to the public is woefully lacking in detail largely ignoring causation. This leads to poor planing down the line.

    How would an independent body do this work any better? Why would they be somehow able to make a better job of it? Seems to me a lot of BS standard is being applied here.

    Tim Harper, Derby
    Agree (24) | Disagree (7)

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